Safer Opioid Prescribing: Express Scripts Significantly Reduces Inappropriate Selection and Excessive Dispensing of Opioids for New Patients


WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2018 — During a briefing on meaningful solutions for safer opioid prescribing with Congressional Representatives Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) and Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Express Scripts (NASDAQ: ESRX) today announced that an initial 90-day review of its Advanced Opioid ManagementSM program shows that the comprehensive solution is protecting people using an opioid medication, particularly those taking an opioid for the first time.

In the first 90 days since the program began on September 1, 2017, the company observed a nearly 60 percent reduction in the average days supply for patients receiving an opioid prescription for the first time, from 18.6 days supply per prescription claim before the launch of the program, to 7.5 days supply per claim after the start of the program.

In addition, the program's utilization management protocols ensured:

  • Nearly 96 percent of patients prescribed an opioid for the first time started with a 7-day supply or less;
  • Approximately 87% of patients prescribed opioids for the first time who were prescribed a long-acting opioid as initial therapy were redirected to safer, short-acting formulations.

“In just the first 90 days of the program, we have demonstrated our ability to help our plans address the national opioid epidemic by promoting greater compliance with CDC guidelines and significantly reducing excessive and inappropriate opioid prescribing,” said Snezana Mahon, PharmD, vice president clinical product development, Express Scripts. “Further, our Neuroscience Therapeutic Resource Center pharmacists are making a difference when it comes to getting patients on a path toward safer use of opioid medications through the hundreds of hours of conversations they are having with patients about opioid risks and safe disposal.”

As part of the Advanced Opioid Management program, Express Scripts Therapeutic Resource Center® (TRC) pharmacists provide proactive counseling on safe opioid use during calls with first-time opioid patients that last an average of 20-30 minutes in the comfort and privacy of the patient's own home. To date, the program also has sent thousands of educational letters and safe disposal bags to patients who received an opioid prescription, and thousands of alerts to prescribers when a patient has accumulated an unsafe amount of opioid medication.

“As parents who lost a child to an overdose, we cannot express enough the importance of reducing excess medication in our homes while increasing the amount of patient education that takes place when opioids are prescribed,” said Jim and Jeanne Moser, founders of the organization, Zero Left. “Thoughtful programs, like the one created by Express Scripts, make a significant difference with every patient they touch.”

Comprehensive, Proactive Approach to Safer Opioid Use
Express Scripts Advanced Opioid Management is based on CDC prescribing guidelines and was pilot-tested in The Express Scripts Lab for six months with more than 100,000 members. The clinically driven program helps patients safely manage pain while limiting the potential for negative outcomes, such as opioid use disorder or death.

Working across the care continuum, the program shields patients and payers by minimizing early opioid exposure, helping to prevent progression to overuse or abuse, and encouraging the safe disposal of unused medications.

Because the opioid epidemic is such a complex issue, effectuating change requires addressing all parties that influence opioid decisions. Express Scripts is the first in the industry to offer a comprehensive solution to the opioid crisis that addresses potential behavior and safety gaps at each touch point:

  • The patient, with whom we provide additional care and support to educate about safety concerns and proper disposal of medication;
  • The pharmacy, where our clinical edits mandate responsible dispensing in all pharmacy channels; and
  • The doctor's office, where we alert physicians when a patient has accumulated an unsafe amount of opioid medication.

“Seeing these types of results at such an early stage shows that by working together with our clients and introducing innovative ways to protect the safety of patients, we have the ability to make a significant impact,” said Mahon. “Our solution is positively impacting our nation and helping patients take better control of their health with additional knowledge, more support and less risk of becoming addicted to opioid medications.”

About Express Scripts
Express Scripts puts medicine within reach of tens of millions of people by aligning with plan sponsors, taking bold action and delivering patient-centered care to make better health more affordable and accessible.

Headquartered in St. Louis, Express Scripts provides integrated pharmacy benefit management services, including network-pharmacy claims processing, home delivery pharmacy care, specialty pharmacy care, specialty benefit management, benefit-design consultation, drug utilization review, formulary management, and medical and drug data analysis services. Express Scripts also distributes a full range of biopharmaceutical products and provides extensive cost-management and patient-care services.

For more information, visit or follow @ExpressScripts on Twitter.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Luddy
Express Scripts
(908) 794-9226
[email protected]

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SOURCE Express Scripts

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