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» ACHI Analysis Shows Arkansas Making Progress…

» ACHI Analysis Shows Arkansas Making Progress…

LITTLE ROCK ― Arkansas has made progress in addressing the opioid overdose epidemic by expanding access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement said Wednesday.

“The opioid overdose epidemic has had a devastating impact on Arkansas, claiming 546 lives in the state in 2020, a 41% increase from the previous year,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “During this National Recovery Month, we at ACHI are highlighting efforts in the state to prevent overdose deaths, including the prescribing of naloxone, also known as Narcan, to people at risk. Our analysis shows that the percentage of Arkansans with high-dose opioid prescriptions who receive co-prescriptions for naloxone has increased every year since 2017.”

In 2017, licensed pharmacists in Arkansas became authorized to order, dispense, and administer naloxone to individuals without a prescription under a state protocol. Last year, Arkansas began requiring prescribers to co-prescribe naloxone in certain situations, such as when an individual has a high-dose opioid prescription that may place him or her at risk of an overdose.

ACHI studied naloxone and opioid prescriptions for Arkansans with Medicaid or commercial insurance for state fiscal years 2017 to 2021, using data from the Arkansas All-Payer Claims Database, which is part of the Arkansas Healthcare Transparency Initiative.

Key findings from ACHI’s analysis include:

  • 238,744 people received opioid prescriptions in fiscal year 2021. This was down from 385,774 in fiscal year 2017, a decrease of 38.1%.
  • 4,848 people received naloxone prescriptions in fiscal year 2021. This was up from just 86 in fiscal year 2017.
  • The percentages of individuals who received both high-dose opioid prescriptions and naloxone increased from fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2021.
    • Among individuals who were possibly at risk of overdose because they had opioid prescriptions of 50 or more morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per day, the percentage who also received prescriptions of naloxone increased from 0.05% in fiscal year 2017 to 6.23% in fiscal year 2021.
    • Among individuals who were possibly at risk of overdose because they had opioid prescriptions of 90 or more MME per day, the percentage who also received naloxone prescriptions increased from 0.12% in fiscal year 2017 to 10.59% in fiscal year 2021.
  • The rate of naloxone prescriptions dispensed per number of individuals receiving high-dose opioid prescriptions improved from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2021.
    • In fiscal year 2021, one naloxone prescription was dispensed for every 16 individuals with opioid prescriptions of 50 or more MME per day, an improvement from one naloxone prescription per 22 individuals in fiscal year 2020.
    • In fiscal year 2021, one naloxone prescription was dispensed for every nine individuals with opioid prescriptions of 90 or more MME per day, an improvement from one naloxone prescription per 14 individuals in fiscal year 2020.

More information on the findings is available at https://achi.net/newsroom/opioid-prescriptions-declined-naloxone-prescriptions-increased-since-2017-in-arkansas-achi-analysis-finds/.

Access to naloxone is also being expanded through NaloxHome, a program administered by ACHI in partnership with the state drug director and the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The program provides free naloxone to participating Arkansas hospitals to dispense to patients or caregivers of patients who have experienced an overdose or are at risk for an overdose at discharge from the emergency room.

NaloxHome launched May 31 with one participating hospital and has since expanded to include 21 hospitals. To date, 37 units of naloxone have been dispensed to individuals at participating hospitals.

Funding for the program is provided by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration through Arkansas DHS. More information is available at achi.net/NaloxHome.

ACHI is a nonpartisan, independent health policy center that serves as a catalyst for improving the health of all Arkansans through evidence-based research, public issue advocacy, and collaborative program development. With oversight from the Arkansas Insurance Department, ACHI maintains the Arkansas All-Payer Claims Database, a repository of insurance claims data that is part of the Arkansas Healthcare Transparency initiative. The initiative was authorized under Arkansas Act 1233 of 2015 to promote transparency in the state’s health care system. See more at achi.net.

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