Patterns in Prescription Opioids, Benzodiazepines, and Stimulants Filled by Pregnant Medicaid Beneficiaries

Controlled prescription drug access has changed with Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansions, and with prescription drug regulations aimed at addressing the opioid crisis. A new JAMA Pediatrics research letter from Dr. Angelica Meinhofer, assistant professor of population health sciences, and colleagues identifies recent controlled prescription patterns among pregnant Medicaid beneficiaries to inform health care and drug policy.  

Researchers combined nationally representative Medicaid claims from the Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System Analytic Files and MAX to generate updated estimates of opioid prescription, the first estimates of benzodiazepines and stimulants filled by pregnant Medicare beneficiaries, and to identify patterns.  

Results show that patterns in prescription opioids and benzodiazepines filled by pregnant Medicaid beneficiaries declined considerably between 2015 and 2019. Modest increases occurred in prescription stimulants filled by pregnant Medicaid beneficiaries. Benzodiazepines and stimulants reflect low prevalence and long-term prescribing, whereas opioid prevalence remained high but reflected short-term prescribing. Prescriptions for benzodiazepines and stimulants declined significantly between the first and third trimester, but modestly for opioids.  

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