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MMWR News Synopsis for October 20, 2016


Declines in Opioid Prescribing After a Private Insurer Policy Change — Massachusetts, 2011 — 2015

CDC Media Relations

Public and private insurers can implement policies and programs that promote best practices in opioid prescribing to reduce risk for dependence and abuse associated with these drugs among their members while ensuring access to effective pain management. Overdose deaths involving opioid pain medications have reached epidemic levels in the U.S., in part because of high opioid prescribing rates and abuse of these drugs. In July 2012, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the largest insurer in the state, implemented a comprehensive opioid utilization program. During the first three years of program implementation, the average monthly prescribing rate for opioids decreased nearly 15%. Approximately 21 million fewer opioid doses were dispensed in the first three years after program implementation. This suggests the Blue Cross Blue Shield initiative played an important role in reducing the use of prescription opioids among its members. Public and private insurers could benefit from implementing their own best practices for prescription opioid management that ensure accessible pain care while reducing the risk for dependence and abuse associated with these drugs.

National Progress Toward Hepatitis C Elimination — Georgia, 2015 — 2016

CDC Media Relations

Georgia’s hepatitis C elimination program, the first of its kind in the world, can provide information and experience that will assist similar goal-setting and programmatic efforts in other countries. The country of Georgia has one of the highest hepatitis C prevalence rates in the world, affecting 8% of the 3.7 million population. Georgia is the first country to take on the challenge of eliminating hepatitis C and has, as part of a comprehensive hepatitis C elimination plan, committed to treat and cure every hepatitis C-infected person in the country. In April 2015, in collaboration with CDC and other partners, Georgia embarked on a program to eliminate hepatitis C infection, subsequently defined as achieving a 90% reduction in prevalence by 2020. The initial phase of the program focused on providing free, curative HCV treatment to infected people with advanced liver disease. By April 2016, a total of 27,392 HCV-infected people registered for the program; 31% started treatment, 69% completed treatment, and 83% of those who completed treatment were cured of HCV

Status of New Vaccine Introduction — Worldwide, September 2016

CDC Media Relations

Sustaining the health gains made through introduction of new vaccines will require country commitment, secure funding, ensuring vaccine supply, creating and maintaining new age and target-population delivery platforms, and addressing competing demands on health care systems and resources. Historically, new vaccines became available in low- and middle-income countries decades after being introduced in high-income countries. However, this gap is rapidly decreasing with support from global partners. As of September 2016, nearly all countries have introduced hepatitis B vaccine. Over three-quarters have introduced Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), second dose of measles-containing (MCV2), and rubella vaccines. Two-thirds have introduced pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and fewer than half have introduced rotavirus or human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV). Despite donor support, countries might choose not to introduce a vaccine because of country policies, financial constraints, lack of disease burden data, or vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine introduction provides opportunities for strengthening a country’s immunization program and overall health system.

Notes from the Field:

  • Outbreak of Zika Virus Disease — American Samoa, 2016
  • Pediatric Emergency Department Visits for Buprenorphine/Naloxone Ingestion — United States, 2008 — 2015
  • Chlorination Strategies for Drinking Water During a Cholera Epidemic — Tanzania, 2016


  • Cancer Death Rates for Children and Teens Ages 1–19 Years — United States, 1999, 2006, and 2014