Fighting Opioid Misuse: The Numbers


So just how much naloxone is getting out? How many pharmacies EPCS enabled?

As the opioid crisis worsens, just how effective are prescribers and pharmacists at fighting back?

The new 2016 National Progress Report from Surescripts analyzes data from its e-prescribing software to track the numbers and may provide some clues.

The report ranks every state on the rate at which it uses Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS). Overall, 14.1% of controlled substances were prescribed electronically in the United States. Pharmacies were 90.3% enabled to use EPCS and physicians were 14.1% enabled.

New York state came in first (New York and Minnesota are the only two states where is e-prescribing is mandated as a means to fight the crisis), with 72.1% prescriber enablement, 98.1% pharmacy enablement, and 91.9% of controlled substances prescribed electronically.

Related article: Surescripts Takes Aim at Improving e-Prescribing Accuracy

Other high ranking states include North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and North Carolina, all of which moved into the top 10 this year. North Dakota catapulted from forty-eighth place to second place, and Minnesota saw double-digit growth in all three categories, moving up to seventh place from twenty-third.

Hawaii ranked last in the country with only 1.9% prescriber enablement, 78.9% pharmacy enablement, and 3.8% of controlled substances prescribed electronically. After Hawaii, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Montana made up the bottom five.

You can find where your state ranks here.

The report also found that there were 25,143 e-prescriptions for naloxone in 2016. Fifty percent of those prescriptions were in an auto-injector and 33% in a nasal spray. August 2016 saw a huge spike, 80% over last year, in naloxone e-prescriptions (3,779 versus a monthly average of 2,095). This huge increase may possibly be due to media attention following the signing of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recover Act in July, according to the report.

In 2016, there were 3.71 million e-prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone, amounting to 307 million pills. This was a slight decrease from previous years, with 1.8% fewer pills per e-prescription. 

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