WEA Trust, a not-for-profit insurance company based in Madison, has seen a significant drop in opioid prescriptions for its members since introducing a drug utilization management program.

This program focuses on members that have never had an opioid prescription before because, WEA Trust claims; 10 percent of them develop chronic opiate use.

“What’s happened previously is people might be prescribed a full month’s worth of opiates and really only need it for seven days,” according to Kyle Humphrey, WEA Trust vice president of sales and marketing. “So this program seeks to medically manage first-time users so they don’t develop an addiction and have more opiate drugs — pills specifically — sitting out in the marketplace for they or somebody else to use.”

In the five months since the program started, member opioid prescriptions have dropped 27 percent — equalling 91,000 fewer pills.

Humphrey says the reduction in unused opiates laying around is the “ultimate goal” of the program, thereby reducing the likelihood of addiction or misuse of the drug.

“If the opiate is paid for by insurance, insurers know exactly what opiates are being picked up at the pharmacy,” says Tim Bartholow, WEA Trust vice president and chief medical officer. “We believe that all insurers have an imperative to help avoid unintended chronic use and addiction, in concert with the extraordinary efforts of our partner pharmacists, nurses, physicians, and dentists.”

Read the press release here.