The North Texas office of Aetna is engaging in a company-wide initiative to fight the growing opioid overprescription epidemic in the United States. The managed healthcare company has been monitoring and participating in an outreach campaign, contacting “super-prescribers” of opioids and requesting reductions to healthcare providers in the region of Texas, California, and other “high impact” states.
Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna originally launched a campaign in the year of August 2016, sending letters to almost 1,000 “super-prescribing” doctors nationwide. Its efforts reported have paid off, decreasing monthly opioid overprescriptions among the commercial pharmacy membership by 7%, and leading to a 5% reduction rate of monthly opioid prescriptions among the Medicare Advantage pharmacy membership network.
Now Aetna’s North Texas region and California operations have sent an extra 729 letters to “super-prescribing” dentists and oral surgeons to continue its attempts to lower opioid use. In accordance to Aetna, Texas has the second-highest numbers of “super-prescribing” dentists. Practicing dentists in the DFW area were writing “more than 4 prescriptions for more than a 7-day supply over the past 2 years,” based on regional claims data.
Dr. Grant Tarbox, Aetna’s senior director for medical health services in North Texas, pointed out that there is a significant issue with dentists and oral surgeons overprescribing opioids in the area. “Aetna is using its considerable information resources to assist clinicians understand how their prescribing patterns compare to their peers and to established guidelines,” Tarbox said. “This will enable them to decrease misuse and abuse and stop the diversion of unused pills which represents a major driver of the opioid overprescription epidemic.”
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