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Monday, September 23, 2013

Prescription Opioids Doubled for Non-Cancer Pain

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The prescription opioid epidemic in the United States continues to plague the country. People can obtain a prescription for just about any ailment; in many cases people who do not require strong opioids are given prescriptions for them simply on the word of the patient. A new study has shown that opioid prescribing for non-cancer pain almost doubled between 2000 and 2010.

Federal government data on treatment of non-cancer pain from 2000 to 2010 was observed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

There were 164 million pain-related visits to doctors in 2010; of those about half of patients were treated with pain medicine of one type or another, according to HealthDay. Prescriptions of non-opioid painkillers remained about the same for the time period stable 26 percent to 29 percent, but prescriptions for opioids nearly doubled, from 11 percent to 19 percent.

“We found that not only have the rates of treated pain not improved, but in many cases, use of safer alternatives to opioids, such as medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, have either stayed flat or declined,” researcher Dr. G. Caleb Alexander said in a news release. “This suggests that efforts to improve the identification and treatment of pain have backfired, due to an over-reliance on prescription opioids that have caused incredible morbidity and mortality among patients young and old alike.”

The findings are published in the journal Medical Care.
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