The U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Dr. David J. Shulkin announced that VA has begun public posting of opioid prescribing data on opioids dispensed from VA pharmacies, along with VA’s strategies to prescribe these pain medications appropriately and safely.
With this announcement, VA becomes the only healthcare system in the country to post information on its opioid-prescribing rates.
“Many Veterans enrolled in the VA health-care system suffer from high rates of chronic pain and the prescribing of opioids may be necessary medically,” Secretary Shulkin said. “And while VA offers other pain-management options to reduce the need for opioids, it is important that we are transparent on how we prescribe opioids, so Veterans and the public can see what we are doing in our facilities and the progress we have made over time.”
The interactive map shows data over a five-year period (2012-2017) and does not include Veterans’ personal information. The posted information shows opioid-dispensing rates for each facility and how much those rates have changed over time. The prescribing rate information will be updated semi-annually, on January 15 and July 15 of each year.
Highlights from the data include:
- A 41-percent drop in opioid-prescribing rates across VA between 2012 and 2017
- Ninety-nine percent of facilities decreased their prescribing rates.
San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Cleveland, Ohio, top the list of medical centers with the lowest prescribing rates, at 3 percent. El Paso, Texas, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, are most improved, and decreased prescribing rates by more than 60 percent since 2012. El Paso’s prescribing rate decreased by 66 percent, and Fayetteville’s decreased by 65 percent
The effort is part of the VA’s Opioid Safety Initiative.