Multiple studies have now found that optimization reviews, or prior authorizations as they are sometimes called, successfully help combat the opioid epidemic.

Optimization reviews lead to lower rates of abuse and overdose, a reduction in high-dosage opioid prescriptions, and a decline in multiple pharmacy use.

Specifically, when optimization reviews were required for prescription opioids, there was a 25 percent reduction in the overdose rate and an 11 percent reduction in the abuse rate.

According to the National Institute of Health, these benefits are due in part to optimization reviews being key for early intervention.

For example, optimization reviews may require a doctor to show appropriate diagnoses or attestation when opioids are being used to treat more than one condition. Or they can prevent an opioid from being prescribed when the patient is taking another drug that poses a dangerous interaction. This is especially the case when there is more than one doctor prescribing the medications.  

In North Carolina, an average of five people die each day from opioid overdose, while the number of unintentional opioid overdose deaths has more than doubled in the past decade.

Despite this epidemic, and the proven benefits of optimization reviews in combating it, some legislators in North Carolina are proposing to essentially eliminate these reviews altogether.

Everyone should be able to get the treatment and medication they need in a timely and efficient manner. And to that end, the federal government has recently rolled out significant changes that will make the optimization review process much better for patients.  

But the North Carolina bill goes too far. It would undermine these federal changes and weaken a proven tool that is being used to slow the opioid epidemic.

Legislators should follow the data and the data is clear: optimization reviews can help fight the opioid epidemic by identifying and stopping overprescribing of addictive medications a patient may not need, and saves lives.

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