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Opioid Prescribing in United States Health Systems, 2015 to 2019.

Khouja T, Tadrous M, Matusiak L, Suda K. Opioid Prescribing in United States Health Systems, 2015 to 2019. Value in health : the journal of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research. 2021 Sep 1; 24(9):1279-1284.

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OBJECTIVES: Health systems (nonfederal hospitals and clinics) are the second major source for drug expenditure in the United States. Opioids prescribed in these healthcare settings are commonly short-acting opioids that can lead to persistent opioid use. Nevertheless, there are no national data that describe trends in opioid use and the associated expenditure in health systems. Therefore, the objective of this article was to describe opioid use and expenditures in US health systems from 2015 to 2019. METHODS: We used data from IQVIA National Sales Perspectives to describe prescription opioid expenditure and use in health systems (nonfederal hospitals and clinics). RESULTS: Over the 5-year study period, health systems dispensed a total of 6.55 billion units of opioids (26.88% decrease) with an associated expenditure of $3.33 billion (26.78% decrease). Relative to all opioid formulations in our study, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl were the opioids with the highest use in US health systems. All opioid prescriptions decreased except fentanyl use, which increased by 29.80% in clinics. The use of abuse-deterrent formulations of opioids decreased by 51.00% over the study period, although the decrease seems to be driven mainly by long-acting oxycodone (brand name Oxycontin). CONCLUSIONS: Opioid use and expenditures in health systems have been decreasing following national trends from retail pharmacies. Nevertheless, fentanyl use increased in clinics and was prescribed at higher proportions in nonfederal hospitals than other opioids, which warrants further investigation.

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