Study Finds Big Drop in Opioid Prescribing For New Patients, But Raises Concerns

    A new study finds a decrease of more than 50 percent in monthly opioid prescribing for new patients. However some doctors continue to write many opioid prescriptions, while others are not writing any, HealthDay reports.

    “The challenge we have in front of us is nothing short of intricate: Curbing the opioid epidemic while ensuring that we appropriately treat pain,” senior investigator Nicole Maestas of Harvard Medical school said in a news release. “It’s a question of balancing the justified use of potent pain medications against the risk for opioid misuse and abuse.”

    The researchers analyzed data from a Blue Cross-Blue Shield commercial insurance database with more than 86 million people. Between July 2012 and December 2017, almost 20 million people aged 15 or older received at least one prescription. The monthly rate of initial opioid prescriptions dropped from 1.6 percent in 2012 to 0.75 percent in 2017.

    They also found a 29 percent decrease in the number of physicians who started prescribing opioids for any patients. In addition, more than 115,000 high-risk prescriptions were written per month. Almost 8,000 of those prescriptions were written for doses high enough to greatly increase the risk of overdose.

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    By Partnership Staff
    March 2019

    Published

    March 2019

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