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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Opioid Analgesics in Georgia Medicaid: Trends in Potential Inappropriate Prescribing Practices by Demographic Characteristics, 2009-2014

Jayani Jayawardhana, Amanda J Abraham, Matthew Perri
Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy 2018, 24 (9): 886-894
30156455

BACKGROUND: There has been a dramatic rise in the number of opioid prescriptions and opioid overdose deaths in the United States over the past 15 years. Misuse and abuse of opioids is also a growing public health concern in the United States. Medicaid enrollees are more likely to be prescribed opioids and are at higher risk of prescription drug overdose compared with non-Medicaid populations. Despite rising opioid drug overdose deaths in Georgia, prevalence of indicators for potential inappropriate prescribing practices has not been examined to date.

OBJECTIVE: To examine trends in the general use of opioids and the prevalence of indicators for potential inappropriate opioid prescribing among the Georgia Medicaid population across various demographic characteristics over time.

METHODS: This study used data from the Georgia individual Medicaid pharmacy claims database from 2009 to 2014. Data sample included 3,562,227 observations (patient prescriptions) representing 401,488 individuals. Outcome measures assessed the trends in the general use of opioids and the indicators of potential inappropriate prescribing practices by providers. These outcome measures were taken from previous expert panels and clinical guidelines (e.g., overlapping prescriptions of opioids, opioids and benzodiazepines, and opioids and buprenorphine/naloxone, as well as high daily doses of opioids). Analyses were stratified by gender, type of insurance (fee-for-service and managed care), age, and race/ethnicity.

RESULTS: The average number of opioid prescriptions, average days supply of opioids per patient, and average daily dose of opioids per patient increased over time across all demographic categories with older, fee-for-service, male, and missing race groups experiencing higher use across all 6 years compared with their counterparts. A similar pattern was observed for average number of incidences of potential inappropriate prescribing of opioids in this population from 2009 to 2014. The percentage of Medicaid enrollees with at least 1 or more indicators of potential inappropriate prescriptions slightly increased from 17.17% to 18.21% during the study time frame. Moreover, the incidence rate of indicators for potential inappropriate prescribing of opioids also increased over time across all demographic groups, with the oldest age group (55-64 years) experiencing the largest increment. The incidence rate of potential inappropriate prescribing practices per patient increased more than 58% over the 6 years.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study show that potentially inappropriate prescribing practices are common and are increasing over time in the Georgia Medicaid population across all demographic categories, with individuals who are listed in the missing race category, have fee-for-service plans, and are older experiencing the largest increments. These findings indicate that patients in certain demographic groups could be at higher risk for experiencing adverse health outcomes related to inappropriate prescribing of opioids. Further research is needed to explore which policy tools or interventions might be more effective in reducing inappropriate prescribing practices in this population.

DISCLOSURES: This research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01DA039930 and the Georgia Department of Community Health, contract number 2015012. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Georgia Department of Community Health. The authors have nothing to disclose. A previous version of this paper was presented at the following conferences: International Health Economics Association 12th World Congress; July 8-11, 2017; Boston, MA, and Addiction Health Services Research Conference; October 18-20, 2017; Madison, WI.

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