New research presented at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting (ARM) highlight opportunities to reduce opioid use, reduce overdose rates, and identify the different ways providers prescribe opioids to patients of different races and genders. 

“Studies presented at this year’s annual research meeting reveal some much needed progress in the fight against opioid overdoes,” said Dr. Lisa Simpson, AcademyHealth President and CEO. “The policy examinations point the way for other states still struggling to combat this public health crisis.”

Key opioid studies at this year’s ARM include:   

In response to the opioid epidemic, states are implementing various policies to increase prescribers’ use of prescription drug monitoring programs. Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College and the University of Pennsylvania examined the effects of three types of policies – one that requires prescriber use of PDMP at the point of care (also known as comprehensive use), one that allows prescribers to delegate use to office staff, and one that enables prescribers to see PDMP data from other states. They found that comprehensive use mandates were associated with the largest overall reduction in high-risk opioid use, followed by delegate laws. Reduction in high-risk opioid use associated with all policies strengthened over time.

Washington was the first state to implement an opioid guideline with a high-dose threshold, with Utah and Colorado following suit. Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Toronto examined trends in rates of opioid overdose hospitalizations after adoption of the policy and found a significant downward trend relative to comparator states. That is, states that implemented a high dose threshold had more improvement in overdose hospitalization rates than states with no guideline.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the DentaQuest Institute evaluated patterns of opioid prescriptions for dental conditions based on outpatient claims data for Medicaid-enrolled children and adults from 13 U.S. states. Their analysis revealed significant gender and racial disparities with the highest proportion of filled opioid prescriptions among African American and white women. Hispanics, regardless of gender, were found to be substantially less likely to receive an opioid prescription. 

For more information about featured studies, please visit


Lauren Adams

Lauren Adams, M.A.

Senior Director of Communications and Marketing - AcademyHealth

Lauren Adams, M.A., is senior director of communications and marketing at AcademyHealth, where she oversees th... Read Bio

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