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Public Health Reports: Opioid Prescribing Among Adults With Disabilities in the United States After the 2014 Federal Hydrocodone Rescheduling Regulation

In a recent article in Public Health Reports, Mr. Victor Liaw of University of Texas at Austin and Drs. Yong-Fang Kuo, Mukaila A. Raji, and Jacques Baillargeon of University of Texas Medical Branch examined whether the 2014 hydrocodone rescheduling change was related to reduced opioid prescribing among adult Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities. From a 20 percent national sample, 680,876 Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities from 2013 and 657,687 from 2015, both aged 21 to 64 years, were identified. Changes in the monthly opioid-prescribing rates were assessed from January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2015 and opioid-prescribing rates was also compared from 2013 to 2015. Results indicated that during 2014 the percentage of Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities who received hydrocodone prescriptions decreased by 0.154 percent per month. The percentage of Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities who received hydrocodone prescriptions decreased from 32.2 percent in 2013 to 27.7 percent in 2015, whereas rates of any opioid prescribing, prolonged prescribing, and high-dose prescribing decreased only modestly, from 50.2 percent to 49.0 percent, from 27.4 percent to 26.5 percent, and from 7.5 percent to 7.0 percent, respectively. The authors concluded that the 2014 federal rescheduling of hydrocodone was associated with only small changes in overall and potentially high-risk opioid-prescribing rates. Furthermore, future studies should assess patient and provider characteristics underlying the persistent high-risk prescribing patterns among adult Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities.

Full article.

Published since 1878, Public Health Reports (PHR) is the official journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service. It is published bimonthly, plus supplement issues, through an official agreement with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. The journal is peer-reviewed and publishes original research, reviews, and commentaries related to public health practice and methodology, public health law, and teaching at schools and programs of public health. Journal Issues include regular commentaries by the U.S. Surgeon General and the executives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health.

The journal focuses on such topics as disease surveillance, infectious and chronic diseases, occupational disease and injury, immunization, health disparities, substance use disorders, tobacco use, and many other key and emerging public health concerns. In addition to its 6 regular issues, PHR produces supplemental issues approximately 2-5 times per year, focusing on specific topics of interest to its readership. The journal’s contributors are on the front lines of public health and present their work in a readable and accessible format.

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