Report Shows Physician Progress in Opioid Crisis
By David Doolittle


A report released late last month highlights physicians’ leadership in the continued efforts to curb the nationwide opioid-abuse epidemic.

The report, issued by the American Medical Association (AMA), found a decrease in opioid prescribing nationwide as well as increases in the use of state prescription drug monitoring programs (PMPs), in the number of physicians trained and certified to treat patients with an opioid use disorder, and in access to the opioid antagonist naloxone. 

“While this progress report shows physician leadership and action to help reverse the epidemic, such progress is tempered by the fact that every day, more than 115 people in the United States die from an opioid-related overdose,” said Patrice A. Harris, MD, chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force. “What is needed now is a concerted effort to greatly expand access to high quality care for pain and for substance use disorders. Unless and until we do that, this epidemic will not end.” 

The report includes data released in April that show 22 percent fewer opioid prescriptions were filled nationwide in 2017 than in 2013. Texas also saw a 22-percent decline during that time, according to a report by health information company IQVIA.

It also contains new information on the continued increase in PMP registration and use. In 2017, health care professionals nationwide accessed state databases more than 337.1 million times – a 148-percent increase from 2016. Texas PMP registrations increased 111 percent during the same time, from 27,205 registrations in 2014 to 57,446 in 2017.

Other highlights from the report include: 

  • In 2017, nearly 550,000 physicians and other health care professionals took continuing medical education classes and other education and training in pain management, substance use disorders, and related areas. 
  • Naloxone prescriptions more than doubled in 2017, from approximately 3,500 to 8,000 dispensed weekly.
  • As of May, there were more than 50,000 physicians certified to provide buprenorphine in office for the treatment of opioid use disorders across all 50 states — a 42-percent increase in the past 12 months.

More information about opioid-use disorder in Texas, including one-pagers, guidelines, and the latest news can be found on the Texas Medical Association’s Opioid Resources page.

Last Updated On

June 08, 2018

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David Doolittle


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Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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