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	Photo: spilled prescription pill bottleTrends in Methadone Sales for Pain Treatment, Diversion, and Overdose Deaths, United States, 2002-2014

The prescription opioid methadone used for pain has been identified as an important contributor to the rise in opioid-related overdose deaths. Starting in 2006, Federal and state actions to reduce the use of methadone for pain were intensified, and a new study published in the July 7 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) evaluates the effect of these efforts on rates of methadone sales, diversion, and overdose deaths between 2002 and 2014.

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An analysis of Washington prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) data revealed that multiple provider episodes (MPEs) vary by age group and class of prescription drug. Opioids and opioid combinations had the highest number of days of overlapping prescriptions, and eight opioids had a mean daily dosage greater than 120 morphine milligram equivalents (MME). Findings indicate that MPEs, overlapping prescription, and mean daily dosages over 100 MMEs are patient risk factors to look for in PDMP data.

Maine’s PDMP data was analyzed to examine several patient risk measures for prescription drug misuse, abuse and overdose. Patients aged 35-54 had the highest rate of MPEs, and opioids were the drug class most frequently involved with MPEs. However, the rate of MPEs declined from 2010 to 2014, and this coincided with an increase in prescribing of buprenorphine, widely used in treating opioid dependence.

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