The prevalence of longer-term dispensing of opioids has droppedconsiderably in a number of states that have implemented policiesand initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic, according to a newstudy by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based nonprofit tracked the prevalence oflonger-term dispensing of opioids in 26 states during two studyperiods — from 2010 to 2012 and then again from 2013 to 2015 — andfound that the prevalence of longer-term opioid dispensingdecreased in most study states. WCRI found even more noticeabledrops for several states in the 2016 edition of the study, likelydue to numerous legislative and regulatory changes within thesestates aimed at addressing issues related to opioid prescribing andchronic opioid management, both within and outside workers’compensation.

Key policies include a mandatory check of prescription historyin the state prescription drug monitoring program database at thepoint of prescribing and dispensing opioids; treatment guidelinesfor prescribing opioids and managing chronic opioid therapy; drugformularies; mandatory provider education focusing on appropriateopioid prescription and pain management; and state laws regulatingpain clinics and dispensing of opioids by physicians.

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.