News & Media

2019 AMA Opioid Progress Report

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The American Medical Association (AMA) has released its 2019 Opioid Progress Report -- the third year that the AMA has reported on actions that physicians have taken to help end the nation's opioid epidemic. The report shows significant decreases in opioid prescribing as well as increases in PDMP use and naloxone prescriptions.

In addition to the national data, the AMA also released state-level data for opioid prescribing and PDMP use.

"We are at a crossroads in our nation's efforts to end the opioid epidemic," said AMA President-elect Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, who also is Chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force. "It is time to end delays and barriers to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) -- evidence-based care proven to save lives; time for payers, PBMs and pharmacy chains to reevaluate and revise policies that restrict opioid therapy to patients based on arbitrary thresholds; and time to commit to helping all patients access evidence-based care for pain and substance use disorders. Physicians must continue to demonstrate leadership, but unless and until these actions occur, the progress we are making will not stop patients from dying."

The topline findings from the report:

  • Opioid prescriptions decreased 33 percent between 2013-2018 from 251.8M to 168.8M;
  • PDMP use increased to 462M since 2014 (up from 61.4M in 2014);
  • More than 700,000 physicians and other health care professionals completed CME and related trainings or accessed other resources focused on opioid prescribing, pain management, screening for substance use disorders and other areas;
  • Naloxone prescriptions increased to nearly 600,000 in 2018 -- a 338 percent increase from 2016;
  • More than 66,000 physicians and other health care professionals now have a federal waiver to prescribe buprenorphine in-office for the treatment of opioid use disorder -- an increase of more than 28,000 since 2016.

Many states also have taken action to remove prior authorization and other barriers to evidence-based treatment for an opioid use disorder, and the AMA has been proud to support those efforts. The AMA continues to urge policymakers and payers to remove all barriers to MAT and comprehensive, multidisciplinary, multimodal pain care.