4 Questions with the PI

NEWS

4 Questions with the PI

OIBR Affiliate Jayani Jayawardhana (Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy) just received her first NIH R01 for the project titled, “Opioid Prescribing in Medicaid: Healthcare Utilization and Deaths from Overdose”. Matt Perri (Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy) is a Co-PI on the project.

Jayani JayawardhanaBrief Description of the Project

The misuse and potential inappropriate prescribing of prescription opioid analgesics is a growing public health concern in the U.S. The dramatic increase in prescription opioid use has led to disconcerting effects including misuse, abuse, and negative health consequences such as death from overdose and increased utilization of healthcare services.  The proposed three year study examines the impact of Georgia Medicaid formulary policy changes on potential misuse and inappropriate prescribing of opioid analgesics, utilization of healthcare services, and deaths from overdose. We will use data from both Georgia and North Carolina Medicaid recipients to examine the impact of Georgia Medicaid policy changes on inappropriate prescribing, utilization of healthcare services, and deaths from overdose. Study hypotheses are tested using descriptive statistics and panel data econometric analyses techniques. The study findings will help inform policy makers, healthcare providers, and public health professionals regarding the effectiveness of policy-level strategies on reducing misuse and inappropriate prescribing of opioids, and associated negative health outcomes such as unnecessary healthcare utilization, and deaths from overdose in vulnerable populations.

1. What attracted you to focus on this area of research?

I have always been interested in studying the impact of healthcare policies on consumer and provider behavior as well as on population health in general.  My initial attraction to studying healthcare policies related to prescription drugs started when I was a graduate student in economics at University of Virginia. I was drawn to this project specifically for two reasons. First, it fits right in with the primary area of my research focus. Second, it addresses an important and timely public health concern in the country, prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths.

2. Do you have any advice for others looking to get extramural funding?

Find a project that you believe in, that will have an impact on society, that will move the science forward, and then look for funding opportunities.  Considering your area of research as well as the applications and contributions of your research question should help you narrow down your choice of sponsor. Then write a 1-2 page summary of your proposed project including answers to: why study this? what are its contributions? how will it help move science forward?   Reach out to program officers of the funding agencies of your choice and share this project summary to describe your proposed research plan with them. Such conversations with the program officers are very useful. They can help guide you to choose the appropriate funding opportunity and make suggestions on how to improve your proposed project so it will be more competitive.  They may also provide information on new funding opportunities that you were not aware of which may be more suitable for your project.

3. How do you expect that your project will advance science?

Healthcare policies are usually put in place by institutions, state governments, and federal government in the hope of achieving improved health outcomes, better environments, reduced costs and waste, and improved social outcomes. However, the effectiveness of these policies and their impact on the society are not always evident. To gain an understanding of effectiveness of a recent policy change that took place in the Georgia Medicaid, the proposed study evaluates the impact of formulary policy changes on potential misuse and inappropriate prescribing of opioid analgesics, utilization of healthcare services, and deaths from overdose. The study findings will help provide new information to policy makers, healthcare providers, and public health professionals regarding the effectiveness of policy-level strategies on reducing misuse and inappropriate prescribing of opioids, associated unnecessary healthcare utilization, and deaths from overdose in vulnerable populations.

4. What are the expected practical implications of this project?

This study will directly measure the impact of formulary policy changes implemented by Georgia Medicaid to limit abuse, misuse and inappropriate prescribing, health services utilization, and deaths from overdose.  Results of the study will provide evidence regarding the effectiveness of formulary policy strategies in reducing misuse and inappropriate prescribing of opioids which is expected to lead to improved patient outcomes such as reduced number of overdose deaths, decreased utilization of healthcare services and reduced costs of medical care. Results will inform key decision makers, allowing them to choose approaches that are most likely to reduce misuse of prescription drugs and drug overdose in states, as well as to help states identify strategies that are effective in addressing a national crisis related to the abuse of prescription opioid analgesics.