AHRQ Brief: Opioid Prescriptions Climbed Nearly 68 Percent From 2002 to 2012

Outpatient prescriptions for opioids — pain medications such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine — increased nearly 68 percent from 2002 to 2012, according to a recent AHRQ Medical Expenditure Panel Survey statistical brief. Opioid prescription purchases rose from 85.9 million in 2002 to 143.9 million in 2012. During this period, total expenses for these prescriptions climbed from $4.1 billion to $9 billion, an increase of about 120 percent; the number of people purchasing one or more opioid prescriptions increased from about 27 million to nearly 37 million.