Bottle of spilling medicine

Although some progress has been made in efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate the crisis is not slowing down.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published a roadmap outlining their efforts to address this issue of national concern. In this roadmap, a three-pronged approach to combating the opioid epidemic is detailed, focusing on:

  • Prevention of new cases of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)
  • Treatment of patients who have already become dependent on/or addicted to opioids
  • Utilization of data from across the country to target prevention and treatment activities

Current estimates show that over two million people suffer from OUD, with a prevalence in Medicare beneficiaries [6 out of every 1,000]. To decrease that number, it is crucial that Medicare beneficiaries and providers are aware that there are options available for both prevention of developing new cases of OUD and the treatment of existing cases.

CMS wants to ensure that beneficiaries are not inadvertently put at risk of misuse by closely monitoring prescription opioid trends, strengthening controls at the time of opioid prescriptions and encouraging healthcare providers to promote a range of safe and effective pain treatments, including alternatives to opioids. CMS is also working on communications with beneficiaries to explain the risks of prescription opioids and how to safely dispose of them, so they are not misused by others.

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The Great Plains QIN continues to partner with providers, pharmacists and stakeholders in the region to address the opioid epidemic. Upcoming educational events include: The Art and Science of Opioid Tapering and The Opiate ‘Crisis’: Physician Perspective and Opiate Stewardship.

Review our past events calendar for additional recordings pertaining to opioids.