Opioid use fell again in S.D. Medicaid program

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Prescription use of opioids for pain relief continues to drop among patients in the South Dakota Medicaid program.

State government’s Medicaid Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Committee received the latest report Friday.

It showed numbers gradually but consistently going down during the past seven quarters, both for claims and for people receiving opioids through the government-funded program.

Claims for opioid prescriptions submitted to Medicaid dropped 27-percent, from 11,283 in the first quarter of 2018, to 8,200 in the third quarter of 2019.

Meanwhile utilizers fell about 20-percent during the same span, from 3,835 to 3,060.

The committee approved several steps in December 2017 to restrict or discourage practices that could lead to opioid abuse.

OptumRx tracks the data. The company, with headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, processes pharmacy claims and pharmacy prior authorizations for South Dakota Medicaid services. 

“We’ve had a steady decrease,” Susan Oh said in presenting the report.

The Legislature requires prescribers of controlled substances such as physicians and dispensers such as pharmacists to register in South Dakota’s prescription drug monitoring program.

The state Board of Pharmacy oversees administration of the monitoring program and the state Department of Health has an Avoid Opioid campaign.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse said South Dakota providers wrote 49 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people in 2017. That was below the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions.

Among neighboring states, the rates in 2017 varied widely: Minnesota 41, Iowa 56.4, Nebraska 56.6, Wyoming 64.8, Montana 61.1 and North Dakota 41.5.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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