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Prescriptions for Opioids Decline in Pennsylvania

Prescriptions for Opioids Decline in Pennsylvania

After Pennsylvania established a drug monitoring program across the state, prescriptions for opioid painkillers are on the decline after only a few months. 


Though the program was passed by Pennsylvania state legislature in 2014, budget cuts prevented it from going into effect before June 2016. It “allows physicians and nurses to see if a patient has obtained prescriptions for opioids or other drugs from another medication professional” (Gaita, 2017). Shortly after the program began, insurers noticed a decrease in numbers related to prescription painkillers (Gaita, 2017):


  • Highmark found that reimbursement numbers dropped from 110,000 to 118,000 to 107,000
  • Capital Blue Cross had a small but significant and continued decrease in reimbursement numbers
  • UPMC Health Plan saw the number of members with at least one opioid prescription drop from 20 percent in 2015 to 16 percent in 2016
  • The United States saw a 10 perecnt decline in prescriptions written for opioids from 2013 to 2015


Dr. Lauren Hughes, the deputy secretary for health innovation at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, stated, “What we’re attempting to do here is create a cultural change on how to more safely prescribe” (Gaita, 2017). 
Additionally, April Hutcheson, the spokesperson for the Department of Health, said, “If you need it, your doctor is going to prescribe it. It’s not preventing opioids from being prescribed; it’s giving prescribers the bigger picture as to where people are getting their prescriptions from” (Gaita, 2017). 












Gaita, P. (2017). Drug monitoring program helps cut prescription painkiller rates in Pennsylvania. Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/drug-monitoring-program-helps-cut-prescription-painkiller-rates-pennsylvania