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The American Medical Association (AMA) is applauding new data showing that opioid prescriptions fell dramatically in 2017—and using the news as an opportunity to promote access to "affordable, non-opioid pain care."

In its report, AMA cites statistics from IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, which found that opioid prescription rates fell by 10% in 2017, the steepest drop in 25 years. All 50 states reported decreases in prescriptions of 5% or more. Additionally, the report states that physicians are increasing their use of prescriptions drug monitoring programs and expanding their treatment capacity through certifications to administer in-office buprenorphine, a drug used in the treatment of opioid use disorder.

That's all good news, the AMA report says, but more needs to be done, both in terms of the nation's addiction treatment efforts and the health care system's overreliance on opioids in the treatment of pain. Among AMA recommendations: a call for "all public and private payers… [to] ensure that patients have access to affordable, non-opioid pain care."

“While this progress report shows physician leadership and action to help reverse the epidemic, such progress is tempered by the fact that every day, more than 115 people in the United States die from an opioid-related overdose,” said Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force in an AMA news release. “What is needed now is a concerted effort to greatly expand access to high-quality care for pain and for substance use disorders. Unless and until we do that, this epidemic will not end.”

APTA has made the opioid crisis a priority in its public education and advocacy efforts through the #ChoosePT opioid awareness campaign and participation in multiple multiorganization initiatives, including a National Quality Partners "Opioid Playbook" that offers actions that can be taken to shift health care away from the overuse of opioids for treatment of noncancer pain. Earlier this year, APTA hosted a live Facebook-broadcast panel discussion titled "Beyond Opioids: Transforming Pain Management to Improve Health."

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