Managing Opioid Risk to Avoid Abuse

Opioids, largely effective for their main prescribed uses of reducing acute pain and as anesthesia during surgery. A side effect of these beneficial treatment effects is that they also have high potential for abuse, which can lead users to substitute more lethal opioids without accepted medical uses such as heroin or illicitly produced fentanyl. Survey data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2016), indicate 2.4 million Americans have an opioid use disorder. This number includes individuals who abuse prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin and individuals who abuse heroin or other illicit opioids.


The opioid drug problem has reached crisis levels in the United States. Over 50,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2015, of which 63 percent (33,091) reportedly involved opioids. The problem is worsening at an alarming pace, with opioid involved overdose deaths doubling in the past ten years and quadrupling in the past sixteen.


Studies of the economic cost of the epidemic focus mainly on healthcare costs and find that prescription opioid abusers utilize significantly more healthcare resources than non-addicted peers.  Others account for additional costs, including foregone earnings from employment and higher costs to the criminal justice system** who estimated prescription opioid overdose, abuse, and dependence in the United States in 2013 cost $78.5 billion. The authors found that 73 percent of this cost was attributed to nonfatal consequences, including healthcare spending,criminal justice costs and lost productivity due to addiction and incarceration. The remaining 27 percent was attributed to fatality costs consisting almost entirely of lost potential earnings.


The MyCharlie opioid risk management program is one way TPA’s, insurance companies, health systems, government payers, employers and others can help people who are legitimately prescribed an opioid to take the needed medicine, but avoid the risk of abuse and addiction – as well as the associated healthcare costs. Learn more about how our approach is different from the traditional prescriber-focused models here. 


Information in the article sourced from“The Underestimated Cost of the Opioid Crisis.”
*e.g., White et al. 2005; White et al. 2009; McAdam,Marx et al. 2010; McCarty et al. 2010; Leider at al. 2011; Johnston et al. 2016; Kirson et al. 2017
**e.g., Birnbaum et al. 2006; Birnbaum,et al. 2011; Hansen et al. 2011; Florence et al. (2016) and Florence et al. (2016)