Medical

United States opioid prescriptions fall, but numbers still high — CDC

United States opioid prescriptions fall, but numbers still high — CDC

"In Florida, where multiple interventions targeted excessive opioid prescribing from 2010 through 2012, (e.g., pain clinic regulation and mandated Prescription Drug Monitoring Program reporting of dispensed prescriptions), the amount of opioids prescribed per capita decreased in 80 percent of counties from 2010 to 2015", the CDC team wrote.

The number of prescriptions for opioids written by health care providers declined between 2012 and 2015, the government reported Thursday, introducing a glimmer of progress in efforts to quell the worst drug epidemic in US history.

However, the number of prescriptions in 2015 was three times higher than in 1999 and four times higher than opioid prescription rates in Europe.

In states where doctors are prescribing the drugs, they are prescribing a lot of them. Half of those deaths involved prescription narcotics.

"The amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 was enough for every American to be medicated round the clock for three weeks".

The new report found that prescribing levels remain significantly higher in some parts of the U.S. The variation is attributed to "inconsistent practice patterns and a lack of consensus about appropriate use". "It's a very important piece of the puzzle", Schuchat said.

State health officials have been pushing providers to limit the use of opioids to treat chronic pain amid an opioid epidemic that's swept the country.

The CDC report also confirmed another critical factor in the crisis: It found wide disparities in opioid prescriptions in counties across the nation. "Physical and emotional stress and discomfort are common". In 2014 alone, there were 1.27 million emergency room visits or inpatient hospital stays for opioid-related health problems, another government agency reported in June.

If the pain is going to last only a week or two, he said, try over-the-counter pain relievers. Charles counties have above average prescription rates, and St. Louis county and city are considered within the average. That's concerning because the longer a person has access to the drugs, the greater their chances of becoming addicted, Schuchat says. Rates also seemed to be high in places with concentrations of people who are white, unemployed, and without health insurance or on Medicaid.




Darker colors on the map show counties with higher levels of morphine milligram equivalents (MME) prescribed per person.

The report's data reflect where people got their prescriptions and not necessarily where they live. Rural areas don't have as many pharmacies, so many residents must travel to have their prescriptions filled. The county has even taken to collecting unused prescriptions in drop off boxes to clear medicine cabinets.

"In 2011 and 2012, OH and Kentucky, respectively, mandated that clinicians review Prescription Drug Monitoring Program data and implemented pain clinic regulation", the team noted. These put more people at risk for addiction and overdose.

However, the average length of days for prescriptions increased. However, the average days' supply per prescription increased from 13 days in 2006 to nearly 18 days in 2015.

However, in 2009, the American Pain Society and the American Academy of Pain Medicine released guidelines aimed at reducing prescribing habits by care providers.

State policies created to cut opioid prescribing may have also played a role. This year, New Jersey became the strictest, limiting painkiller prescriptions to just five days. Prescription opiods accounted for some as did alcohol and other illegal drugs.

And prescription numbers have actually dropped over the last decade.

"We know the country is experiencing the highest overdose rates ever recorded, and it's driven by prescription and illicit opioid use", Schuchat said.


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