Impact of COVID-19 related policy changes on filling of opioid and benzodiazepine medications

Callie G. Downs, Tyler J. Varisco, Shweta S. Bapat, Chan Shen, J. Douglas Thornton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Healthcare access has changed drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Elective medical procedures, including routine office visits, were restricted raising concerns regarding opioid and benzodiazepine provider and prescription availability. Objective: To examine how the cancelation of elective medical procedures due to COVID-19 impacted the dispensing of opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions in Texas. Methods: Interrupted time series analyses were preformed to examine changes in prescription trends for opioids and benzodiazepines before and after the restriction on elective medical procedures. Samples of patients who filled an opioid or benzodiazepine prescription from January 5, 2020 to May 12, 2020 were identified from the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program. Elective medical procedures were restricted starting March 23, 2020 indicating the beginning of the intervention period. Results: Restricting elective procedures was associated with a significant decrease in the number of patients (β = −6029, 95%CI = −8810.40, −3246.72) and prescribers (β = −2784, 95%CI = −3671.09, −1896.19) filling and writing opioid prescriptions, respectively. Also, the number of patients filling benzodiazepine prescriptions decreased significantly (β = −1982, 95%CI = −3712.43, −252.14) as did the number of prescribers (β = −708.62, 95%CI = −1190.54, −226.71). Conclusion: Restricting elective procedures resulted in a large care gap for patients taking opioid or benzodiazepine prescriptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2005-2008
Number of pages4
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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