Controlled Substance Lock-In Programs: Examining An Unintended Consequence Of A Prescription Drug Abuse Policy.


Journal Article

Controlled substance lock-in programs are garnering increased attention from payers and policy makers seeking to combat the epidemic of opioid misuse. These programs require high-risk patients to visit a single prescriber and pharmacy for coverage of controlled substance medication services. Despite high prevalence of the programs in Medicaid, we know little about their effects on patients' behavior and outcomes aside from reducing controlled substance-related claims. Our study was the first rigorous investigation of lock-in programs' effects on out-of-pocket controlled substance prescription fills, which circumvent the programs' restrictions and mitigate their potential public health benefits. We linked claims data and prescription drug monitoring program data for the period 2009-12 for 1,647 enrollees in North Carolina Medicaid's lock-in program and found that enrollment was associated with a roughly fourfold increase in the likelihood and frequency of out-of-pocket controlled substance prescription fills. This finding illuminates weaknesses of lock-in programs and highlights the need for further scrutiny of the appropriate role, optimal design, and potential unintended consequences of the programs as tools to prevent opioid abuse.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Roberts, AW; Farley, JF; Holmes, GM; Oramasionwu, CU; Ringwalt, C; Sleath, B; Skinner, AC

Published Date

  • October 1, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1884 - 1892

PubMed ID

  • 27702963

Pubmed Central ID

  • 27702963

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1544-5208

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.0355


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States