Crush-resistant pills help lower opioid overdoses
The development of painkiller pills that can't be crushed may be having a positive impact on the opioid addiction epidemic. A study from JAMA Internal Medicine found the rate of opioid abuse and use has dropped since the pharmaceutical industry introduced crush-resistant oxycodone and after propoxyphene, another opioid, was withdrawn from the market in 2010.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Boston University School of Medicine reviewed opioid prescriptions to U.S. commercial health plan members to reach the estimated average level of a morphine-equivalent dose (MED). They found that the dispensing rate of all opioids fell immediately after the new restrictions in 2010. The rate in the last quarter of 2012 was an estimated 139 mg MED per member, a significant decrease from the 163 mg peak. These changes reflected a 19 percent decrease as a result of the 2010 changes. Also, the estimated rate of overdoses dropped by 20 percent.
The data was gathered from 31 million insured members. One researcher noted these findings provide helpful insight for policymakers and health care professionals who are trying to tackle the opioid abuse epidemic. The study authors do point out that the reduction of opioid supply should not negatively affect the supply of helpful painkilling treatments for people. They also warn that intervention on the supply end will not fix the demand problem.