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The following is a statement from Charles Cutler, M.D., president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society and a practicing physician in Montgomery County. He reacts to news from an insurance company that reimbursements for opioid prescriptions have decreased.

“As reported by several news agencies, Highmark recently announced opioid prescription reimbursements for those insured in Pennsylvania decreased during the last three months of 2016 compared to the first nine months of the year. The decrease is worth noting — from a high that reached slightly above 118,000 dropping to just below 108,000.

“In 2012, the Pennsylvania Medical Society launched its first public campaign to push the Commonwealth to build a controlled substance database that physicians could access to better handle doctor shopping. That project became reality during the closing months of 2016 when Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program went live for the first time.

“I have no doubt that the PDMP played a role in Highmark’s data. We hope similar data from other insurers will show the same positive progress being made. Data on this issue needs to be more widely shared and analyzed.

“We also should applaud the ongoing continuing medical education that’s now in place as well as opioid prescribing guidelines that have been developed by the Pennsylvania Medical Society and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. There’s no one silver bullet, and they all are making a difference.

“But, there’s still work to do and we shouldn’t rest. Leftover medications need to be properly disposed of. Better funding and resources are needed to help those facing addictions. And, we need to continue to get the word out that when it comes to opioids, please be smart, be safe, and be sure.”

The Pennsylvania Medical Society was founded in 1848. To learn more about PAMED, visit its web site at or follow on Twitter @PAMEDSociety. Members of the media are encouraged to follow Chuck Moran on Twitter @ChuckMoran7. Dr. Cutler can be followed on Twitter via @PAMEDPrez.