Two Florida laws, enacted to combat prescription drug abuse and misuse in that state, led to a small but significant decrease in the amount of opioids prescribed the first year the laws were in place, a new study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers suggests.
One measure created a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a database that tracks individual prescriptions, including patient names, dates and amounts prescribed, so physicians can be on the lookout for excesses associated with addiction and illicit use. Another addresses so-called “pill mills,” loosely regulated pain clinics that often see disproportionately high levels of opioid prescriptions. Florida’s “pill mill” measure requires clinics to register with the state and be owned by a physician.
In the first 12 months after implementation of these laws, Florida’s opioid prescriptions fell slightly, slipping 1.4 percent. At the same time, the volume of opioids prescribed decreased 2.5 percent, compared with Georgia’s, a decrease equivalent to 750,000 pills per month. The amount per prescription also declined 5.6 percent, also compared with Georgia’s, the researchers found. The declines were among the heaviest users and prescribers.
The findings were published online August 17 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
“These findings support the notion that there are policy solutions to the prescription drug epidemic,” says Dr. Lainie Rutkow, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins.