In Minnesota’s latest effort to combat the abuse of prescription painkillers, a state task force has set new limits on opioid prescriptions by doctors who participate in the state’s Medicaid program, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The rule, adopted Thursday by the state’s Opioid Prescribing Work Group, says that doctors who exceed a new state dosage limit for more than half their patients would receive warnings and training. If they don’t bring their dosage amounts down, they would eventually face removal from the Medicaid program, which covers roughly 20 percent of Minnesota’s population and has broad influence on providers.
For nonsurgical physicians and dentists, the limit says that no more than half of their opioid prescriptions should exceed the dosage level of 100 morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs). That would be 20 Vicodin or Percocet pills at the common 5 milligram strength. The task force set a similar policy for surgeons, but at a threshold of 200 MMEs per outpatient prescription. While doctors can always issue second and third prescriptions, studies have shown that many patients get over acute pain from injuries or surgeries with only small initial dosages of opioids, experts said. The new limits will take effect on approval by the state human services commissioner.