A new study from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association found that the number of prescriptions for opioid-based medications among its commercially insured members in Massachusetts plummeted 51 percent between 2013 and 2017 — the biggest drop in the nation. The results come in the wake of a groundbreaking prescription safety program launched by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts in 2012, before the opioid epidemic was widely recognized as a crisis.

“Our Prescription Pain Medication Safety Program has had a substantial impact on opioid prescribing habits in the Commonwealth, helping to reduce the risk of misuse of these powerful narcotics,” said Bruce Nash, MD, chief physician executive at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Nationally, there was a 29 percent decline in opioid-based medication prescriptions among Blue Cross Blue Shield commercially insured members. Massachusetts was the state with the fewest prescriptions for these pain medications. There were 193 opioid-based prescriptions written for every 1,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield members in Massachusetts in 2017. The national average was more than double that, at 394. The data was released today by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in its latest Health of America Report and may be an indication that actions on the local, state and national level are having an impact on the misuse of opioid-based drugs.

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