Reductions in sustained prescription opioid use within the US between 2017 and 2021

Andrew J. Schoenfeld*, Satish Munigala, Jonathan Gong, Roman J. Schoenfeld, Amanda Banaag, Christian Coles, Tracey P. Koehlmoos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Over the last decade, various efforts have been made to curtail the opioid crisis. The impact of these efforts, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, has not been well characterized. We sought to develop national estimates of the prevalence of sustained prescription opioid use for a time period spanning the COVID-19 pandemic (2017–2021). We used TRICARE claims data (fiscal year 2017–2021) to identify patients who were prescription opioid non-users prior to receipt of a new opioid medication. We evaluated eligible patients for subsequent sustained prescription opioid use. The prevalence of sustained prescription opioid use during 2020–2021 was compared to 2017–2019. We performed multivariable logistic regression analyses to adjust for confounding. We performed secondary analyses that accounted for interactions between the time period and age, as well as a proxy for socioeconomic status. We determined there was a 68% reduction in the odds of sustained prescription opioid use (OR 0.32; 95% CI 0.27, 0.38; p < 0.001) in 2020–2021 as compared to 2017–2019. Significant reductions were identified across all US census divisions and all patient age groups. In both time periods, the plurality of encounters associated with initial receipt of an opioid that culminated in sustained prescription opioid use were associated with non-specific primary diagnoses. We found significant reductions in sustained prescription opioid use in 2020–2021 as compared to 2017–2019. The persistence of prescribing behaviors that result in issue of opioids for poorly characterized conditions remains an area of concern.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1432
JournalScientific Reports
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2024
Externally publishedYes

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