Collaboration Aims to Reduce Opioid Prescriptions After Extractions

Dentistry Today


With the support of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), Pacira Pharmaceuticals and Aetna are developing a national program aimed at reducing the number of opioids prescribed after impacted third molar extractions by at least 50% through the use of Exparel to provide non-opioid post-surgical pain control. Aetna will reimburse oral surgeons enrolled in the program for their use of Exparel, which is a bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension, in these cases once they have been trained in its use.

“In collaborating with AAOMS and Pacira, Aetna aims to take opioids out of the medicine cabinet and provide an effective non-opioid pain management alternative for our members undergoing oral surgery,” said Harold L. Paz, MD, MS, executive vice president and chief medical officer for Aetna. 

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, more than two thirds of postsurgical patients report unused prescription opioids, and most indicate that these medications are neither safely stored nor disposed of. Meanwhile, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report that at least 2 million people in the United States have an opioid use disorder involving prescription opioids.

“In light of our nation’s opioid epidemic, the AAOMS is committed to the safe and responsible prescribing of opioids for acute and postsurgical pain control,” said Douglas W. Fain, DDS, MD, president of AAOMS. “We are pleased to see additional support for the use of non-opioid options like Exparel to provide oral surgery patients with long-lasting postsurgical pain control while reducing their need for high volumes of opioids.”

Related Articles

Most Prescribed Opioid Pills Go Unused

Surgeon General Campaign Aims to Reduce Opioid Prescriptions

CDC Issues New Opioid Rx Recommendations