Does Prescription Opioid Shopping Increase Overdose Rates in Medicaid Beneficiaries?


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

The link between prescription opioid shopping and overdose events is poorly understood. We test the hypothesis that a history of prescription opioid shopping is associated with increased risk of overdose events. This is a secondary analysis of a linked claims and controlled substance dispense database. We studied adult Medicaid beneficiaries in 2014 with prescription opioid use in the 6 months before an ambulatory care or emergency department visit with a pain-related diagnosis. The primary outcome was a nonfatal overdose event within 6 months of the cohort entry date. The exposure of interest (opioid shopping) was defined as having opioid prescriptions by different prescribers with greater than or equal to 1-day overlap and filled at 3 or more pharmacies in the 6 months before cohort entry. We used a propensity score to match shoppers with nonshoppers in a 1:1 ratio. We calculated the absolute difference in outcome rates between shoppers and nonshoppers. We studied 66,328 patients, including 2,571 opioid shoppers (3.9%). There were 290 patients (0.4%) in the overall cohort who experienced a nonfatal overdose. In unadjusted analyses, shoppers had higher event rates than nonshoppers (rate difference of 4.4 events per 1,000; 95% confidence interval 0.8 to 7.9). After propensity score matching, there were no outcome differences between shoppers and nonshoppers (rate difference of 0.4 events per 1,000; 95% confidence interval -4.7 to 5.5). These findings were robust to various definitions of opioid shoppers and look-back periods. Prescription opioid shopping is not independently associated with increased risk of overdose events.

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