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Published on: Oct 29, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many unexpected changes to our lives, including limited access to healthcare and controlled substance prescriptions. In this post, Chan Shen, Penn State Cancer Institute, discusses her research using the Texas PDMP database to examine the filling of opioids and benzodiazepines before and after the executive order by the Texas governor to limit elective medical procedures due to COVID-19.

Shen and her co-authors found a significant drop in both the number of unique patients and unique prescribers filling and prescribing new opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions. This suggests that even though there were efforts to expand access to health care through telehealth, there are still barriers for patients to receive new opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions. Patients may have poor computer literacy, lack internet access or have privacy concerns, while prescribers may not feel comfortable prescribing controlled substances without physically observing the patients.

For more, visit the Insights from Experts website — a partnership of Penn State's Social Science Research Institute and the Center for Health Care and Policy Research.