Assessing the Impact of State Guidelines on Dentists’ Opioid Prescribing Patterns in New York and Oregon

In October 2017, the United States (US) Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. With more than 100 opioid-related overdose deaths occurring daily and over 11 million people misusing prescription opioids, the opioid epidemic is estimated to cost the US $506 billion annually. Dentists are responsible for 12% of all immediate-release opioid prescriptions making them 1 of the top 5 prescribers of opioid analgesics among healthcare professionals in the US and significant contributors to the prevailing opioid epidemic.

This project will build upon previous OHWRC research that compared opioid prescribing patterns of dentists in New York and Oregon between 2014 and 2016. The prior study found that before formal guidelines were in place for dentists, in both states, the rate and per Rx amount of prescribing was slowly declining. This study will examine trends from 2017-2020 to determine whether and to what extent guidelines in either state led to a further reduction in opioid prescribing by dentists. Study teams have already received permission from both Medicaid programs to extract data, and methods of data cleaning, matching, and analysis which were developed in the prior study will be replicated, allowing for an efficient and important look at the impact of opioid prescribing guidelines. This study will also include an initial look at the impact of COVID-19 on provider prescribing behavior during the 2020 calendar year.