Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in Availability of Opioid Analgesic Availability

"Disparities in pain assessment and treatment on the basis of race and ethnicity are well documented.29 Diminished ability to obtain access to opioid analgesics in local pharmacies is a significant barrier to quality pain care. The present investigation provides evidence that Michigan pharmacies in predominantly minority areas were significantly less likely to have sufficient prescription opioid analgesic supplies when compared with predominantly white areas. Regardless of median income and median age, significant differences were found in opioid analgesic availability on the basis of ethnic composition. These results support the findings of Morrison et al38 that pharmacies in predominantly minority neighborhoods stock insufficient opioid analgesic supplies more so than those in predominantly white neighborhoods. However, these results also extend their findings by demonstrating the role of both social class and income on opioid analgesic availability. More specifically, the odds for not having sufficient opioid analgesic supplies are significantly higher among pharmacies in low income areas when compared with higher income areas, regardless of race. More importantly, we identified that the odds of having insufficient supplies in minority neighborhoods changed significantly on the basis of income (ie, high or low) (OR, 13.36 vs 54.42). Thus, social class and poverty seem to play a role for whites more so than minorities. Noncorporate pharmacies were also more likely to have sufficient opioid analgesic supplies than corporate pharmacies. These results suggest that if an opioid analgesic is prescribed for pain management, persons living in minority zip codes (even in higher income areas) or those living in low income zip codes (regardless of minority status) face additional barriers to quality pain care. Thus, vulnerable populations (eg, minorities and low income individuals) are at increased risk for inefficient and lesser quality pain care."


Carmen R. Green, S. Khady Ndao-Brumblay, Brady West, and Tamika Washington, "Differences in Prescription Opioid Analgesic Availability: Comparing Minority and White Pharmacies Across Michigan," The Journal of Pain - October 2005 (Vol. 6, Issue 10, Pages 689-699, DOI: 10.1016/j.jpain.2005.06.002), p. 695.
Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...