AMA Releases Opioid Progress Report

Date of Publication (May 10, 2017)

The AMA Opioid Task Force recently released its 2017 progress report highlighting the role physicians are playing in addressing our country’s opioid abuse problem. The report looks at metrics such as physicians receiving continuing medical education on safe opioid prescribing and pain management, as well as prescription monitoring program (PMP) uses and access to the opioid antagonist naloxone. 

Overall, this report shows promising signs. The number of opioid prescriptions issued nationally has dropped 16.9% between 2014 and 2016. While the AMA state-level data shows that the drop opioid prescriptions in Iowa has not dropped at as significant a rate, dropping 12.8% over the same period, the number of prescriptions issued in our state was already well below that of many similarly-sized states. Part of this reduction is attributed to increased use of state PMPs to help identify individuals seeking to game the system to obtain unnecessary opioids and to better manage the medications for patients who see multiple providers. Nationally, the number of registered PMP users has nearly tripled since 2014 and usage continues to grow – since 2014, the number of annual PMP queries has grown by more than 120%. While growth in the number of Iowa PMP registrants continues to lag behind the rest of the country, PMP queries have increased significantly, growing 130% between 2014 and 2016. 

Much work remains in the fight against opioid abuse. Over the past four years, IMS has pushed for enactment of multiple pieces of legislation to help with this effort. In 2014, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy (IBP) was given authority to connect Iowa’s PMP with neighboring states, and legislation IMS championed this session will expand this authority to nationwide connectivity. While still not completed nearly two years later, the IBP has also been given authority to implement the technological upgrades necessary to integrate the PMP with clinics’ EHR systems. In 2016, IMS successfully sought legislation to expand third-party access to naloxone, and this session IMS successfully sought legislation to review the statutory cap on IBP funding for local controlled substance disposal programs. 

Efforts to increase educational resources available to Iowa physicians are also ongoing. Recently, the 2017 IMS Annual Conference features a series of education panels on pain management, including the new CDC prescribing guidelines. Recordings of these panels, as well as additional education resources will be available on the IMS website soon. For more information on IMS efforts to combat opioid abuse, please contact Dennis Tibben with the IMS Center for Physician Advocacy.

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