From 2013 to 2017, New York had a steeper decline in the number of opioid prescriptions filled by commercially insured Blue Cross Blue Shield members than the nation as a whole, according to a national report highlighted by Excellus BCBS.
Excellus BCBS highlighted the following state findings from a national BCBS Association report, “The Opioid Epidemic in America: An Update.” The report studied the pharmacy and medical claims of more than 41 million BCBS commercially insured members, including those in the state.
In 2013-17, the state had a greater decline in the number of opioid prescriptions filled (35 percent) than the nation as a whole (29 percent).
In 2017, the opioid prescription rate — total number of opioid prescriptions filled per 1,000 members — in New York was third-lowest among all states included in the study. Last year, 230 opioid prescriptions were filled per 1,000 members in the state versus 394 per 1,000 members nationwide.
In 2017, 71 percent of BCBS members in the state filled their first opioid prescription within the dose and duration guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2017, the rate of opioid use disorder diagnoses was lower in the state (5.0 diagnoses per 1,000 members) than the nation (5.9 diagnoses per 1,000 members).
“This report by our national association is helpful in measuring the progress made in addressing the opioid crisis,” said Martin Lustick, Excellus BCBS corporate medical director. “New York state health care providers are making great strides in promoting the safe and appropriate prescription of opioids.”
Lustick credits the decline in the number of opioid prescriptions filled in New York in part to new prescription requirements passed by the state in 2016. Those requirements restricted the initial fill rates of opioid prescriptions to be within CDC-recommended guidelines. Effective July 2018, Excellus BCBS implemented an opioid prescribing requirement that helps enforce the state restrictions. The health plan worked to address the crisis by providing individuals diagnosed with opioid use disorder access to various treatment options.
“While all areas of the country still have a long way to go in improving how opioids are prescribed, the report shows that state efforts have helped to reduce the number of opioid prescriptions filled,” Lustick said.
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