Nationwide Progress in Declining Opioid Prescriptions, Connecticut Near the Top

Twenty-two percent decline in opioid prescriptions over four years announced by IQVIA.  Connecticut has seen a 27.3% decline.

Connecticut has had one of the most significant reductions in prescribing (27.3%) over the last few years and saw an 11% reduction in the last year alone (2016 to 2017).  The Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS) has made significant efforts in education and outreach to prescribers.  Our Opioid Committee is pleased with this verification of these efforts but believe more can be done.

In 2014, CSMS launched an Opioid Committee and has worked with the AMA and other state medical societies to address legislation and regulation ranging from developing effective prescription drug monitoring programs, continuing medical education, restrictions on treatment for opioid use disorder as well as enactment of naloxone access.  To date more than 3,000 clinicians and physicians have attended an educational program regarding opioids.

“We are proud of the work Connecticut’s physicians have done. While we have made some progress, there is more work and public education needed to overcome this epidemic,” comments Dr. Gregory Shangold, co-chair of the CSMS Opioid Committee.

According to Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, chair of the American Medical Society (AMA) Opioid Task Force, “A 22-percent decrease in opioid prescriptions nationally between 2013 and 2017 reflects the fact that physicians and other health care professionals are increasingly judicious when prescribing opioids. It is notable that every state has experienced a decrease, but this is tempered by the fact that deaths related to heroin and illicit fentanyl are increasing at a staggering rate, and deaths related to prescription opioids also continue to rise. These statistics again prove that simply decreasing prescription opioid supplies will not end the epidemic. We need well-designed initiatives that bring together public and private insurers, policymakers, public health infrastructure, and communities with the shared goal to improve access and coverage for comprehensive pain management and treatment for substance use disorders.”

She added, “it is a sign of progress that IQVIA reported an increase in new treatment starts for medication assisted treatment (MAT) for patients with opioid use disorder, nearly doubling from 44,000 in December 2015 to 82,000 in December 2017. This evidence-based treatment can slow and even stop this epidemic. Physicians and other stakeholders accept that bold action is needed. We go where the evidence leads us. We all must take care that policies and practices don't restrict access to one alternative for pain relief without increasing access to comprehensive, multidisciplinary pain care, including non-opioid-based options."

“We (CSMS) remain heavily involved in the developing and advocating for legislation to combat the opioid crisis.  Last year we advocated and saw passed PA 17-131 that included physician-friendly changes to e-prescribing requirements, requiring insurance coverage for greater treatment options, and requiring substance abuse services reimbursement to be paid directly to a providing practitioner or facility,” comments Matthew Katz, EVP/CEO of CSMS.

The CSMS Opioid Committee has teamed up with the CSMS Addiction Medicine Committee on a new initiative that will help physicians with the opioid crisis by resetting patient expectations on pain.  The initiative will provide physicians with tools and resources to educate patients and the community that pain has a purpose.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and prevention guidelines to manage acute pain will be recommended, as well as referring to pain specialists for patients with chronic pain.  This will also be an opportunity to educate primary care physicians and other prescribers of the need for appropriate screening for opioid use disorders (OUD) and refer for treatment as appropriate.

“It is only by working together as a state medical society, with key community partners, elected officials, and the AMA that can start to make long standing progress in defeating this epidemic,” added Dr. Steven Thornquist, President of CSMS and co-chair of their Opioid Committee.

About Connecticut State Medical Society

Proudly, one of the nation’s oldest medical societies, the Connecticut State Medical Society was founded in 1792 and serves more than 6,000 physicians across the state. The mission of CSMS is to be the voice of all Connecticut physicians; to lead physicians in advocacy; to promote the profession of medicine; to improve the quality of care; and to safeguard the health of our patients. For more information, visit

About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the premier national organization providing timely, essential resources to empower physicians, residents and medical students to succeed at every phase of their medical lives. Physicians have entrusted the AMA to advance the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health on behalf of patients for more than 170 years. For more information, visit


IQVIA is a leading global provider of information, innovative technology solutions and contract research services focused on helping healthcare clients find better solutions for patients. Formed through the merger of IMS Health and Quintiles, IQVIA applies human data science — leveraging the analytic rigor and clarity of data science to the ever-expanding scope of human science — to enable companies to reimagine and develop new approaches to clinical development and commercialization, speed innovation and accelerate improvements in healthcare outcomes.  To learn more, visit

Click here to learn more about these results. 

IQVIA Opioid state and payer views 2017 FINAL

IQVIA Opioids Rx by State 2013-2017final