As we report in an October news article, recent studies have shed light on the growing scale of the opioid crisis in the United States. Among the latest statistics:
- 33,000 Americans died in 2015 from an opioid overdose, a high percentage from the use of synthetic opioids such as illegally manufactured fentanyl.
- The diagnosis of “opioid use disorder” climbed 493% from 2010 to 2016 in Blue Cross Blue Shield claims.
- Around 4.31% of Americans ages 12 or older use prescription pain relievers for nonmedical uses.
Increasing Naloxone availability.
The findings underscore the urgent need to take steps to combat the crisis—a need that has prompted states and cities to attack the issue using various methods. Baltimore’s health commissioner, for example, issued a standing order for naloxone to be available at all of the city’s pharmacies. Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design collaborated to create NaloxBoxes—emergency naloxone boxes installed at city social service centers that enable any bystander to administer a rescue dose.
Speeding access to addiction treatment.
And, to minimize delays in patients’ receipt of medication-assisted opioid addiction treatments like methadone, New York State has reached agreements with two insurance companies to end their requirements for prior authorization for such treatments.
National opioid emergency?
On October 16, President Trump surprised advisors, who reportedly have been divided on whether and how to implement a national opioid emergency, by stating that an emergency proclamation would occur within “the next week.” The implications for funding and policy of such a declaration remain unclear.