The overuse of opioids is a public health crisis. Opioid-related deaths have quadrupled in the last fifteen years and now surpass deaths from automobile accidents. Recent studies estimate the opioid epidemic costs the United States $78.5 billion annually, including $28 billion spent for healthcare and substance abuse and $7.7 billion for criminal justice costs. Each day, about 12 Californians die from a drug overdose, and opioids—primarily prescription pain relievers and heroin—are the main driver of overdose deaths. Patients seeking relief from chronic pain can too easily become addicted to prescription pain relievers. Smart Care California is promoting actionable approaches to reversing the course of the opioid epidemic.
Patients, Families, and Caregivers
Easy-to-read information on the safe use of prescription painkillers in both print and interactive formats. Key resources include fact sheets on side effects of opioids and alternative ways to manage pain. Providers, payers, and purchasers can distribute these resources to patients and consumers.
- Safe Pain Medicine Prescribing in Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Centers (Safe Med LA)
- Opioid Safety Coalitions Network (California Health Care Foundation)
- Prescription Painkillers 5 surprising facts (Consumer Reports)
- Medicines to Relieve Chronic Pain (Consumer Reports)
- See all resources for patients, families and caregivers
Evidence-based guidelines, best practices, and training materials for physicians and other health care providers on safe opioid prescribing. Practical tools such as Patient Medication Agreements engage patients in conversations about opioid treatment.
- Tapering Toolkit Provider Resource (Partnership HealthPlan of California)
- Clinician Consultation Center (University of California San Francisco)
- San Diego Patient Medication Agreement Long Version and Short Version (San Diego and Imperial County Prescription Drug Abuse Medical Task Force)
- Opioid Stewardship and Chronic Pain: A Guide for Primary Care Providers (San Francisco Department of Public Health and California Department of Public Health)
- Chronic Pain and Safe Opioid Prescribing (American College of Physicians [ACP])
- See all resources for providers
Payers and Purchasers
Concrete actions for payers and purchasers seeking to effectively manage opioid utilization. Key resources include a minimum insurance benefit design for patients with opioid use disorder and case studies of health plans that have successfully incorporated interventions to encourage safe and appropriate opioid use.
- Reducing Opioid-Related Morbidity and Mortality: Payer and Provider Strategies (Smart Care California)
- Curbing the Opioid Epidemic: Checklist for Health Plans and Purchasers, updated November 2017 (Smart Care California)
- Changing Course: The Role of Health Plans in Curbing the Opioid Epidemic (California Health Care Foundation)
- Insurance Barriers to Accessing Treatment of Opioid Use Disorders and Minimum Insurance Benefits for Patients with Opioid Use Disorder (California Society of Addiction Medicine)
- See all resources for payers and purchasers
Narcotics Safety Initiative: Opioid Overuse, Chronic Pain, and What Plans Can Do About It (Marcus Thygeson, M.D., M.P.H., Blue Shield of California, IHA Board Meeting, September 2016)
MemorialCare Health System’s Approach to Reducing Opioid Overuse: The Providers’ Role (James D. Leo, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.C.C.P, MemorialCare Health System, IHA Board Meeting, September 2016)
Reducing Opioid Overuse (Neal Kohatsu, M.D., California Department of Health Care Services, and Kelly Pfeifer, M.D., California Health Care Foundation, Smart Care California Meeting, October 2015)