According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 19,000 people in the U.S. died from prescription opioid overdoses in 2014, a 16 percent increase over the year before, and the highest number ever recorded. People dependent on prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to abuse heroin. Prescription opioid misuse also takes a financial toll, with public and private health insurers incurring an estimated $72.5 billion in costs each year. Yet insurers—particularly Medicare and Medicaid—have limited options for curtailing the overuse and abuse of these drugs, and prescribers need better tools to detect patients who may be at risk of harm.
Pew develops and supports policies to reduce the inappropriate use of prescription drugs while ensuring that patients have access to effective pain management.