Friday, July 07, 2017

Opioid-prescription rate fell, but rose in rural areas; CDC study has county-by-county maps

Opioid-prescription rates fell recently, but continued to increase in more than half of U.S. counties, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a report that includes county-by-county maps showing ranges of prescription rates and whether the rates have increased or decreased since 2010. The national rate was still three times as high as it was in 1999.
Click on maps for a slightly larger version; MME is morphine milligram equivalents.
"While prescriptions rates fell nationwide between 2010 and 2015, their availability either remained steady — or actually increased — in just over half of the U.S. counties for which data were available," reports Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times. "The counties in the top quartile (top 25 percent) were largely rural places where residents are overwhelmingly white, low-income and in poor health."

The findings are based on where a prescription was dispensed, not the residence of the patient. CDC said rates were higher in "micropolitan" counties, those with cities of 10,000 to 50,000 people: "Reasons for higher opioid use in micropolitan counties might include less access to quality health care and other treatments for pain, such as physical therapy. In addition, persons in rural areas might travel to micropolitan areas, which often serve as an anchor community for a much larger rural region, to receive medical care and pick up medications."

Healy notes, "Florida, Ohio and Kentucky — all states that cracked down on high-prescribing doctors and clinics between 2010 and 2012 — saw opioid prescribing fall in 80%, 85% and 62% of their counties, respectively. Given that rates of opioid prescribing are closely linked to addiction and overdoses, the CDC said that counties and states can use its detailed breakout of prescribing trends to increase the availability of addiction treatment."
Charts from CDC report; click on image for a larger version

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