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Medicare Advantage is the largest single purchaser of opioids; it accounts for more than a fifth of prescription opioid spending and in 2017. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Recent data show that drug overdose deaths in the U.S. were 10 percent higher in 2017 than 2016, with an almost 50 percent increase in those related to synthetic opioids. A new research paper points to a glimmer of hope in this otherwise bleak story: Medicare Advantage insurance companies seem to be doing a surprisingly good job at mitigating opioid abuse.

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