The nation's opioid crisis, which claimed more than 350,000 lives between 1999 and 2016, isn't solely linked to illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl.
"In too many cases, addiction still starts with a prescriber's pen," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said of the opioid epidemic in a speech this month. "The number of prescriptions being written is still too high."
Those numbers, though, have been declining since 2011, and new data released Thursday from the Iqvia Institute for Human Data Science, an industry researcher, show the decline accelerated last year, helped by changes in regulation of opioid prescribing and in reimbursement policies from insurers.
"Some of the programs, perhaps many of the programs that have been put into place in the past year or two seem to be having an impact," said Murray Aitken, executive director of the Iqvia Institute, in an interview. The data show, he said, "a significant drop."