Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Surveillance Snapshot: Trends in Opioid Prescription Fills Among U.S. Military Service Members During Fiscal Years 2007–2017

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Ryan Marr, 18th Medical Group pharmacy craftsman, processes prescriptions, June 8, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The pharmacy processes and fills prescriptions for hundreds of different medical needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jessica H. Smith) Merriam/Released) U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Ryan Marr, 18th Medical Group pharmacy craftsman, processes prescriptions, June 8, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The pharmacy processes and fills prescriptions for hundreds of different medical needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jessica H. Smith) Merriam/Released)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

This snapshot highlights unadjusted metrics of opioid prescription fills among active duty and retired service members using data from the Pharmacy Data Transaction Service of the Military Health System (MHS). The metrics described include

• the percentage of active component, reserve component, and military retirees who filled at least 1 opioid prescription (therapeutic class = opiate agonist) in a given year (Figure 1, Table);

• the median number of fills per year among those with at least 1 fill (Table); and

• the percentage of opioid fills that exceeded 90 daily morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs) (Figure 2).a

Despite decreasing fill rates in recent years, nearly 1 in 4 active duty and retired service members had a filled opioid prescription in 2017 (Figure 1). Active duty and activated Guard/Reserve members who received an opioid prescription had a median of 2 fills per patient in 2017, while retirees had a median of 7 fills per patient (Table). Moreover, a higher percentage of retirees’ opioid prescriptions were for high-dose prescriptions (as determined by MMEs)1,2 compared to active duty and activated Guard/Reserve, although rates were not adjusted for age (Figure 2). While increased duration and prescriptions greater than 90 MME per day are not necessarily problematic in and of themselves, both are risk factors for potential misuse and may be indicators of potentially concerning prescribing practices.3 These findings highlight the importance of tracking opioid fills in the MHS, monitoring patients with opioid prescriptions, expanding surveillance efforts to assess prescription practices, and limiting opportunities for opioid misuse and abuse. Despite substantial rates of opioid prescription fills, opioid use disorders are diagnosed infrequently among service members in the MHS (0.2% prevalence from 2010–2015).4 It is important to emphasize and sustain initiatives such as the Defense Health Agency’s Opioid Prescriber Safety Training Program as well as regulatory guidance5 aimed at facilitating the responsible use of this important facet of pain management.

aDaily MME = (strength per unit) x (number of units/days’ supply) x (MME conversion factor).1,2,5

Author affiliations: Psychological Health Center of Excellence, J-9 Research and Development Directorate of the Defense Health Agency (Mr. Peters, Dr. Kincaid, Ms. Quah, Ms. Greenberg, Dr. Curry); Salient CRGT, Inc. (Mr. Peters, Dr. Kincaid, Ms. Quah, Ms. Greenberg)

REFERENCES

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid oral morphine milligram equivalent (MME) conversion factors. https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prescription-Drug-Coverage/PrescriptionDrugCovContra/Downloads/Opioid-Morphine-EQ-Conversion-Factors-Aug-2017.pdf. Accessed 24 June 2019.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Calculating total daily dose of opioids for safer dosage. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/calculating_total_daily_dose-a.pdf. Accessed 24 June 2019.

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital signs: opioid prescribing. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/pdf/2017-07-vitalsigns.pdf. Published July 2017. Accessed 24 June 2019.

4. Office of the Secretary of Defense. Report to Congress on prescription drug abuse. https://health.mil/Reference-Center/Reports/2016/04/15/Prescription-Drug-Abuse. Published March 2016. Accessed 24 June 2019

5. Defense Health Agency. Procedural Instruction 6025.04. Pain Management and Opioid Safety in the MHS. 8 June 2018.

Percentages of active duty and retired service members with 1 or more opioid prescription fills, fiscal years 2007–2017

Percentages of opioid prescription fills exceeding 90 daily MMEs, active and retired service members, fiscal years 2007–2017

Summary of percentages of beneficiaries with 1 or more opioid prescriptions, of median numbers of prescription fills per patient per year, and of percentages of opioid prescription fills that exceeded 90 daily MMEs, fiscal years 2007–2017

You also may be interested in...

Incident and Recurrent Cases of Central Serous Chorioretinopathy, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2018

Article
9/1/2019
A phoropter is an instrument used to determine an individual’s eyeglass prescription by measuring the eye’s refractive error and switching through various lens until the persons vision is normal. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Dennis Spain)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Editorial: The Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Vision Center of Excellence

Article
9/1/2019
U.S. Army Spc. Angel Gomez, right, assigned to Charlie Company, 173rd Brigade Support Battalion, wraps the eye of a fellow Soldier with a simulated injury, for a training exercise as part of exercise Saber Junction 16 at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, April 5, 2016. Saber Junction is a U.S. Army Europe-led exercise designed to prepare U.S., NATO and international partner forces for unified land operations. The exercise was conducted March 31-April 24. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Joshua Morris)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Centers of Excellence

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Ocular and Vision-Related Conditions, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018

Article
9/1/2019
Senior Airman Breanna Daniels, 559th Medical Group optometry technician, takes images of Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Edmiston, 559th MDG trainee health flight chief, during an eye exam Oct. 19 at the Reid Clinic on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The 559th MDG is home to the largest optometry and public health flight in the Department of Defense; the DOD's first military training consultation service. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Incidence and Temporal Presentation of Visual Dysfunction Following Diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2006–2017

Article
9/1/2019
SAN DIEGO (April 6, 2017) Cmdr. John Cason, program director Navy Refractive Surgery, performs the second Small Incision Lenticular Extraction (SMILE) procedure at Naval Medical Center San Diego. The SMILE procedure is the latest advancement in refractive surgery for correcting myopia or nearsightedness. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam/Released)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Incidence and Prevalence of Selected Refractive Errors, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2018

Article
9/1/2019
U.S. Army Spc. Angel Gomez, right, assigned to Charlie Company, 173rd Brigade Support Battalion, wraps the eye of a fellow Soldier with a simulated injury, for a training exercise as part of exercise Saber Junction 16 at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, April 5, 2016. Saber Junction is a U.S. Army Europe-led exercise designed to prepare U.S., NATO and international partner forces for unified land operations. The exercise was conducted March 31-April 24. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Joshua Morris)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Update: Routine Screening for Antibodies to Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Civilian Applicants for U.S. Military Service and U.S. Armed Forces, Active and Reserve Components, January 2014–June 2019

Article
8/1/2019
A hospitalman draws blood at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth’s Laboratory Department. DoD Photo

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Historical Review: Rickettsial Diseases and Their Impact on U.S. Military Forces

Article
8/1/2019
Dorsal view of a female American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis. Credit: CDC/Gary O. Maupin

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Commentary: Gaps in Reportable Medical Event Surveillance Across the Department of the Army and Recommended Training Tools to Improve Surveillance Practices

Article
8/1/2019
A U.S. naval officer listens through his stethoscope to hear his patient’s lungs at Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan in 2018. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps) photo by Lance Cpl. Cameron Parks)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Epidemiology of Impulse Control Disorders and Association With Dopamine Agonist Exposure, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018

Article
8/1/2019
A dopamine molecule

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Evaluation of Serological Testing for Lyme Disease in Military Health System Beneficiaries in Germany, 2013–2017

Article
8/1/2019
Digitally colorized scanning electron microscope image depicting a grouping of numerous, Gram-negative anaerobic Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria derived from a pure culture. Credit: CDC/Claudia Molins

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Surveillance Snapshot: Incidence of Rickettsial Diseases Among Active and Reserve Component Service Members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2018

Article
8/1/2019
Dorsal view of a female American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis. Credit: CDC/Gary O. Maupin

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Influenza

Infographic
7/1/2019
Adminstration of a seasonal flu vaccination. (U.S. Navy photo)

Adminstration of a seasonal flu vaccination. (U.S. Navy photo)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Mononucleosis

Infographic
7/1/2019
Mononucleosis

A specimen is tested for mononucleosis at the medical clinic on Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota (U.S. Air Force photo)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Zika

Infographic
7/1/2019
Zika

Anopheles merus mosquito. (CDC photo by James Gathany)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Psittacosis

Infographic
7/1/2019
Psittacosis

Green-winged Macaw. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 76 - 90 Page 6 of 13

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.