A new survey from NPR-Truven Health Analytics shows that 57% of respondents have been prescribed a narcotic painkiller at some point in their history. That might not be surprising in itself, but the percentage continues to increase, up from 54% in a 2014 survey and 50% in the 2011.
Two days before the survey was released, Maryland’s governor declared a state of emergency and committed an additional $50 million toward enforcement, prevention and treatment over the next 5 years. State statistics show that heroin and fentanyl alone killed 1468 in Maryland during the first 9 months of 2016, a jump of 62% from the same period in 2015. Maryland isn’t the first state—and likely won’t be the last—to take such drastic measures to try and curb opioid addiction.
Opioid addiction is notoriously hard to kick, leading to frequent relapses. So it’s encouraging that major insurers such as Aetna, Anthem and Cigna have all recently dropped prior authorization requirements for physicians to prescribe medications used to ease withdrawal symptoms, which are frequently prescribed along with counseling.
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