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Pa. sees a 14 percent decrease in opioid prescriptions from 2016-17

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Pennsylvania is moving in a direction that state officials see as progress when it comes to the number of opioid prescriptions.

Pennsylvania had the second largest percentage drop in opioid prescriptions across the country between 2016 and 2017, according to research collected by IQVIA, an institute for human data science headquartered in North Carolina.

IQVIA’s data shows that the number of opioid prescriptions in Pennsylvania fell from 9.4 million in 2016 to 8.1 million in 2017 - a 14 percent drop. New Hampshire had the steepest slide, at 15.1 percent.

Gov. Tom Wolf credited the state's achievement, in part, to an increase in use of - and greater access to - the commonwealth’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The expanded access allows multiple Pennsylvania departments at the state level to share data more widely.

Wolf said the ranking is a confirmation that the efforts to combat the epidemic are translating into results.

“It is my hope that this positive news further spurs efforts and attitudes towards solving this crisis, which we know will take time and the continuation of the concerted effort we have in place in Pennsylvania,” he said in a statement.

Since the launch of the monitoring program in 2016, York County has12.5 percent fewer prescriptions for opioids, Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of the state Department of Health, said earlier this week. 

During a regional meeting of the Opioid Command Center in downtown York, Levine said in 2016, 3,230 individuals in York County with opioid-use disorder were covered by Medicaid. Of those, 2,092 were covered due to an expansion of Medicaid coverage. For many people, this is the first time they were able to access treatment for addiction, Levine said.

The command center, a multi-agency initiative that includes the assistance of the state police, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and the state Department of Health, was established in January to combat the epidemic. 

The creation of the Opioid Data Dashboard, meanwhile, is credited in part for assisting the public in gaining access to local resources for treatment as well as information about the scope of the problem.

"We are making progress, but we need to stay the course and remain focused on the very important work of the Opioid Command Center to prevent addiction and help those suffering from substance use disorder into treatment and on the path to recovery," Levine said.


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Emily Thurlow

Emily Thurlow

​Emily Thurlow covers York County​ for the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a tip? Drop her a line at ethurlow@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter @localloislane.

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