July 21, 2020

2020 AMA Opioid Task Force Drug Overdose Report

Sharp reductions in prescription opioid supply, continued increases in PDMP use, but staggering increase in fatalities involving illicit opioids, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine were demonstrated last year. AMA calls on policymakers and others to remove barriers to evidence-based care for patients with pain and those with a substance use disorder.

Although fatal opioid overdoses hit a record high in 2019 — and the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to make matters worse — the latest report from the American Medical Association's Opioid Task Force finds that prescriptions for these drugs decreased last year for the sixth year in a row. There was a 37% decrease in opioid prescriptions last year — from more than 244 million in 2014 to around 154 million in 2019. Other trends also point to higher scrutiny of these prescriptions: There was a 64% increase since 2018 in physicians' use of state drug monitoring programs, for instance, which are online databases meant to track prescriptions of controlled substances. And more doctors are also prescribing naloxone: More than 1 million prescriptions of the drug were dispensed last year, which is more than double the number in 2018.

> 2020 AMA Opioid Task Force Drug Overdose Report

> End the Epidemic, American Medical Association (AMA) website

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