Rx Opioid Overdoses Decrease, Driven by Abuse-deterrent Technology

by Amanda Conschafter, blog editor

Opioid pain pill overdoses have dropped significantly, and abuse-deterrent technology may be part of the reason why, says a new study. The Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed how overdose rates has responded since abuse-deterrent technology was introduced into the market in 2010. Researchers noted that propoxyphene, a narcotic pain reliever, has also been eliminated from the market since then. During the same time period, prescription opioid pain pill overdose rates have decreased nearly 20 percent.

[RELATED: Abuse-Deterrent Opioid Formulations: Promising Technology, Unique Challenges]

Abuse-deterrent technology complicates users’ ability to misuse opioid pain pills by crushing them for snorting or injecting or by dissolving them in alcoholic drinks. The Food and Drug Administration issued its official guidance on abuse-deterrent pain pill formulations April 1.

The higher cost for abuse-deterrent formulations sparked widespread debate about the value and costs of these drugs. Yet experts continue to argue that the benefits justify the expense.

The Journal of the American Medical Association’s study also noted that prescription opioid dispensing has decreased by 19 percent since 2010, while heroin overdoses increased by 23 percentin the same time period. The study’s authors didn’t attempt to draw a conclusion from this data but did note that heroin overdoses have been steadily rising for several years.

As part of widespread efforts to reduce prescription drug abuse, several states have moved to protect patients’ access to abuse-deterrent opioid formulations. Some state laws require insurance companies to provide coverage for abuse-deterrent formulations that’s as favorable as the coverage for traditional opioid pain pills. Some laws also prohibit punishing patients who need abuse-deterrent formulations with higher cost-sharing.


Categorized in: