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Analysis of opioid prescription practices finds areas of concern
Date:4/5/2011

An analysis of national prescribing patterns shows that more than half of patients who received an opioid prescription in 2009 had filled another opioid prescription within the previous 30 days. This report also suggested potential opportunities for intervention aimed at reducing abuse of prescription opioids.

Researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health, will publish results of this analysis in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

"More research is needed to see if current practices are working, with a closer look at why so many patients are getting multiple prescriptions within a short period of time," said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. "As a nation, it is important that we all become better informed about effective pain management and the risks of abusing prescription painkillers."

This analysis comes on the heels of a nearly 20 year increase in the use of prescription painkillers. From 1991 to 2009, prescriptions for opioid analgesics increased almost threefold, to over 200 million. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network system, which monitors drug-related emergency department visits and drug-related deaths, emergency room visits related to the nonmedical use of pharmaceutical opioids has doubled between 2005 and 2009. While these medications are crucial for pain management, their wide availability may also result in leftover pills in family medicine cabinets, increasing opportunities for abuse, as well as a host of serious medical consequences, including addiction. Most abusers report getting these medications from friends and relatives who had been prescribed opioids, or they are abusing their own medications.

This study used data from SDI's Vector One National database, a privately owned national-level prescription and patient tracking service. The sample included 79.5 million prescriptions dispensed in
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Contact: NIDA Press Office
media@nida.nih.gov
301-443-6245
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse
Source:Eurekalert

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