Senate nears opioids deal as prescriptions fall
The Senate's opioids bill is inching closer to coming together, advancing the congressional effort to address the epidemic that is rapidly changing from being a prescription problem to an illegal drug problem.
Driving the news: Opioid prescriptions decreased 16% in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017, according to a new Food and Drug Administration analysis.
- That suggests efforts to slow overprescribing have been effective.
- But as heroin and fentanyl overdoses rise, the epidemic will demand an evolving response.
By the numbers:
- In the first half of 2018, 74.1 metric tons of oral morphine equivalents (a way to measure opioids) was dispensed in retail outpatient settings, a 16% drop from the year before.
- In 2017, 88.8 metric tons of opioids were dispensed, a 10.4% decrease from 2016.
Between the lines: The Senate bill will likely address all sides of the epidemic but still primarily be focused on the problems of overprescribing and prescription opioid misuse.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday all Republican issues with the opioids bill had been resolved, but there was a snag among the Democrats.
The other side: Reducing opioid prescriptions isn't always a good thing, and addressing the opioid epidemic has backfired for some patients who need chronic pain treatment, Politico reports.