Objective: To examine opioid prescribing frequency and trends to Medicare Part D enrollees from 2013 to 2017 by medical specialty and provider type.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective, cross-sectional, specialty- and provider-level analysis of Medicare Part D prescriber data for opioid claims from 2013 to 2017. We analyzed opioid claims and prescribing trends for specialties accounting for ≥1% of all opioid claims.
Results: From 2013 to 2017, pain management providers increased Medicare Part D opioid claims by 27.3% to 1,140 mean claims per provider in 2017; physical medicine and rehabilitation providers increased opioid claims 16.9% to 511 mean claims per provider in 2017. Every other medical specialty decreased opioid claims over this period, with emergency medicine (-19.9%) and orthopedic surgery (-16.0%) dropping opioid claims more than any specialty. Physicians overall decreased opioid claims per provider by -5.2%. Meanwhile, opioid claims among both dentists (+5.6%) and nonphysician providers (+10.2%) increased during this period.
Conclusions: From 2013 to 2017, pain management and PMR increased opioid claims to Medicare Part D enrollees, whereas physicians in every other specialty decreased opioid prescribing. Dentists and nonphysician providers also increased opioid prescribing. Overall, opioid claims to Medicare Part D enrollees decreased and continue to drop at faster rates.
Keywords: Analgesic; Chronic Pain; Narcotics; Opioids; Pain Management; Prescriptions.
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