A new study by the drug-benefits management firm Express Scripts Holding Co. found that almost one in four Medicaid patients received opioid pain medication in 2015.
Express Scripts analyzed the annual opioid usage of 3.1 million Medicaid patients across 14 states in 2015. The study, “A Nation in Pain: Focus on Medicaid,” found that nearly one quarter of the members filled an opioid prescription and nearly one-third of them took opioids for more than 30 days. Even more concerning, 4.3 percent of Medicaid patients age 19 and under were on narcotic pain medicines.
The study shows the extent to which these powerful and addictive narcotics have penetrated the U.S. healthcare system, despite widespread knowledge of the growing opioid epidemic. To that end, Express Scripts concluded, “Due to the high volume of patients in various stages of misuse, abuse, and treatment, providing care requires a holistic approach that includes collaboration between PBMs, prescribers, pharmacies, employers and opioid users.”