Report Shows Decreases in Opioid Prescribing, Increases in Drug-Related Overdoses and Deaths

For the 10th consecutive year, opioid prescribing has decreased, yet more Americans than ever are dying from a drug-related overdose, according to a report released Sept. 21 by the AMA. 

Minnesota’s opioid prescription rate went down 6.5 percent from 2019 to 2020. In the last decade, opioid prescribing decreased by 50.7 percent in Minnesota. Meanwhile, drug-related overdoses went up.
“Minnesota prescribers have rightly changed their practices to prescribe opioids more judiciously; unfortunately, drug-related overdoses and deaths remain a crisis in Minnesota and the nation,” said Marilyn Peitso, MD, president of the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA). “Continued work is needed to save lives.”

To address the continuing epidemic, the MMA and the AMA are urging policymakers to join physicians to reduce mortality and improve patient outcomes by removing barriers to evidence-based care. The AMA report shows that overdoses and deaths are spiking even as physicians and other prescribers have greatly increased the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), the electronic databases that track controlled substance prescriptions and help identify patients who may be receiving multiple prescriptions from multiple prescribers. The report shows that prescribers and pharmacists used state PDMPs more than 910 million times in 2020.

Yet, Minnesota – like nearly every other state in the nation – continues to see increases in overdoses mainly due to illicit fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, methamphetamine and cocaine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In addition, state public health, media and other reports compiled by the AMA show that drug-related overdoses and deaths have worsened in Minnesota and nationally. Research and data from the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Indian Health Service underscore the continued challenges and inequities for Black, Latino and American Indian/Native Alaskan populations.