Case Studies

Data Brief: Naloxone Prescription in Response to the Opioid Epidemic

September 3, 2020

Author

Pader Moua, MPH
Policy Analyst
501-526-2244
PMoua@achi.net

 

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In response to the opioid epidemic, Arkansas pharmacists in 2017 were given authority to order, dispense, and administer the anti-overdose drug naloxone to individuals without a prescription. To gain insight into the trends and patterns of naloxone prescriptions in Arkansas, ACHI conducted an analysis of naloxone and opioid prescriptions for Medicaid and commercially insured beneficiaries from state fiscal year (FY) 2017 to FY 2019, using data from the Arkansas All-Payer Claims Database, part of the Arkansas Healthcare Transparency Initiative. The results of our analysis are contained in this data brief and the accompanying infographics.

Key findings:

  • Among Medicaid and commercially insured beneficiaries, the number of individuals receiving opioid prescriptions decreased from FY 2017 to FY 2019, while the number of individuals receiving naloxone prescriptions increased.
  • The percentage of individuals who received both naloxone and high-dose opioid prescriptions (≥ 50 morphine milligram equivalents, or MME, per day) increased each state fiscal year. However, by FY 2019 the percentage with ≥ 50 MME per day opioid prescriptions and the percentage with ≥ 90 MME per day opioid prescriptions both remained low at 2.93% and 5.35%, respectively.
  • In FY 2019, one naloxone prescription was dispensed for every 34 individuals with ≥ 50 MME per day opioid prescriptions, and one naloxone prescription was dispensed for every 19 individuals with ≥ 90 MME per day opioid prescriptions.
  • In FY 2019, pharmacists authorized 1,130 out of 3,137 naloxone prescriptions under state protocol.