At the 2020 WCRI Annual Issues & Research Conference, Vennela Thumula with WCRI talked about their studies on opioid dispensing trends and alternatives for pain management.
Between 2014 and 2018, they saw decreases in opioid prescribing in all study states. The biggest decreases were seen in California and New York which implemented new drug formularies during the study period. The highest prescribing is still seen in Louisiana and Arkansas.
The average Morphine Milligram Equivalent (MME) dispensed decreased in every study state except Delaware. The biggest reduction was seen in New York.
Offsetting the decrease in opioid prescriptions was an increase in the use of non-opioid pain medications such as NSAIDs, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and corticosteroids. However, there was an overall decrease in all pain medications seen across all study states.
With the decrease in use of prescription pain medications, there was an increase in the use of non-pharmacological pain treatment. The most commonly seen treatments were active physical therapy, passive physical therapy, and massage therapy.