DataByte: Opioid and Other Pain Medication Use in Utah

By Brantley Scott

The opioid epidemic has received much attention both in Utah and nationally. According to the Utah Opidemic website, an average of five Utahns die from opioid overdose every week. There is much that can and should be done to prevent overdose incidents and deaths.

This Office of Healthcare Statistics (OHCS) DataByte looks at both the percentage of opioid prescriptions and length of days supplied. The data for these results comes from the Utah All Payer Claims Database (APCD) using the Milliman MedInsight therapeutic class groupings. In general, some progress has been made in decreasing the percent of opioids prescribed. The average length of days supplied increased from 17.0 in 2013 to 18.2 in 2016. However, there was a slight decrease to 17.9 for the first quarter of 2018. This analysis did not look into the reasons for these changes, but increased provider and patient awareness may be contributing factors.

During 2019 Utah General Session, legislators passed HB 191 requiring a prescriber to discuss the risks of using an opiate with a patient or the patient’s guardian before issuing an initial opiate prescription.  Several resources are available to providers to assist with this discussion and can be found here.