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Opioid Availability in Outpatient Pharmacies in Washington State

Mayer, Jonathan D. MA, PhD* †; Kirlin, Beth BA; Rehm, Colin D. BA*; Loeser, John D. MD§

doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e3181590d4f
Original Articles
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Objective To determine if opioids, both long and short acting, were widely available in pharmacies in Washington State, and to ascertain if availability was related to rural/urban location or socioeconomic factors.

Methods A mail survey of 1349 outpatient pharmacies with telephone follow-up of the nonresponders.

Results Over 90% of the responding pharmacies in Washington State have a broad supply of both long-acting and short-acting opioids. Pharmacies located in rural and urban areas did not have different availability. Those pharmacies in areas with a high percentage of nonwhite residents or a high percentage of residents below the poverty level were statistically more likely to have reduced availability, but the differences were not clinically significant.

Discussion Data from Washington State contrasts sharply with the reported data from metropolitan and rural areas of eastern and midwestern regions of the United States. Regional variations in all aspects of healthcare are common and often have defied explanation.

Departments of *Epidemiology

Geography, Medicine (Allergy and Infectious Diseases) Family Medicine, and Health Services

§Neurological Surgery and Anesthesiology, University of Washington

Group Health Center for Health Studies, Group Health, Seattle, WA

Supported by a grant from Purdue Pharmaceuticals. None of the authors have any potential conflicts of interest to declare.

Reprints: Jonathan D. Mayer, MA, PhD, Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Box 353550, Seattle, WA 98195 (e-mail: jmayer@u.washington.edu).

Received for publication March 6, 2007; revised August 16, 2007; accepted August 21, 2007

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.