One out of three Missouri participants in Medicare’s prescription drug program were prescribed opioids last year, more than the national rate of 29%, according to a newly released government report.
About 973,000 Missourians were enrolled in Medicare Part D and 321,000 of them received opioids, the report by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ inspector general finds.
Although the proportion of Missouri beneficiaries who received opioids has fallen every year since 2016, it was still higher than the national rate each of those years.
The inspector general study, part of an ongoing examination of opioid use in the Medicare Part D program, concludes that Missouri needs to take effective steps to address the opioid epidemic and suggests that it institute a statewide prescription drug monitoring program.
Missouri is the only state without such a program, which makes it easier for beneficiaries to engage in doctor shopping and tougher to detect the abuse of prescription drugs.
State health officials have taken a number of steps to combat the opioid epidemic, including creating a community response team to address the problem in St. Louis, where overdose deaths are the highest in the state.
Other steps include expanded access to Naloxone to counter the effects of an opioid overdose, increased disciplinary and enforcement actions against opioid prescribers, and identifying areas of the state at greatest risk for opioid overdoses.
“What we are dealing with in Missouri is an increased presence of fentanyl and carfentanil, which presents an even greater risk for opioid overdose,” Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said earlier this summer.
Source: St. Louis Public Radio