Prime Therapeutics and GuideWell find pharmacy point-of-sale alerts reduce opioid overprescribing

Intervention supports CDC-recommended supply for short-term pain management

October 25, 2019

EAGAN, Minn. – New research from Prime Therapeutics LLC (Prime) and GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation (GuideWell), the parent to Florida’s largest health insurance company, found that alerts sent to pharmacies notifying them that insurance would cover no more than a 7-day supply for patients who were newly starting opioid therapy resulted in a decrease in patients receiving too much of the opioid drug. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when opioids are used for acute pain, a three-day supply or fewer is often sufficient; more than seven days is rarely needed.¹

Prime and the health plan examined whether the pharmacy point-of-sale intervention would be successful at reducing the number of opioid prescriptions for more than a 7-day supply for people new to opioids. This intervention reduced opioid claims for individuals receiving more than a 7-day supply by 88%, when compared to a control group that did not receive the intervention.

The intervention was suspended twice during the study period. During those times, the number of patients receiving a greater than 7-day supply of opioids increased by more than 10 percentage points, proving the effectiveness of the intervention.

“The CDC guidelines are well publicized but not always followed during prescribing,” said Patrick Gleason, PharmD, assistant vice president, health outcomes for Prime. “So this finding is highly valuable as pharmacy benefit managers, health plans and pharmacies work together to keep excessive amounts of dangerous opioids from getting into the hands of people who don’t need them to treat acute, short-term pain. Our collaboration with GuideWell shows how positive this type of program can be for the health and safety of members.”

“We have been working on addressing the opioid epidemic in Florida for a number of years,” said Scott McClelland, PharmD, vice president of commercial and specialty pharmacy for GuideWell. “The results of this study affirm our belief that these point-of-sale messages help reduce member opioid exposure thereby reducing safety concerns associated with opioids. These types of efforts, along with our continued focus on introducing innovative, non-opioid pain treatment solutions, will help us to reverse the impact of opioid abuse in Florida and elsewhere.”

Prime researchers will present this research at Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) Nexus Oct. 29-Nov. 1 in National Harbor, Md.


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fmmwr%2Fvolumes%2F65%2Frr%2Frr6501e1er.htm
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