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Opioid Use in Medicare Part D in 2020

The opioid crisis remains a public health emergency. In 2018, there were nearly 47,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States. Identifying patients who are at risk of overdose or abuse is key to addressing this crisis. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has made this need even more pressing. The National Institutes of Health recently issued a warning that individuals with opioid use disorder could be particularly hard hit by COVID-19, as it is a respiratory virus that attacks the lungs. Respiratory disease is known to increase the mortality risk among people taking opioids. This data brief will provide information on opioid utilization among beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part D in 2020. It will build on our series of annual reports, including the July 2019 data brief Opioid Use Decreased in Medicare Part D, While Medication-Assisted Treatment Increased, OEI-02-19-00390. It will provide 2020 data on Part D spending for opioids and the number of beneficiaries who received extreme amounts of opioids through Part D and those who appeared to be doctor-shopping. It will also identify prescribers who ordered opioids for large numbers of these beneficiaries.

Announced or Revised Agency Title Component Report Number(s) Expected Issue Date (FY)
Completed Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Opioid Use in Medicare Part D in 2020 Office of Evaluation and Inspections OEI-02-20-00400 2021