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Sharp rise in opioid drugs prescribed for non-cancer pain, reports study in Medical Care
Date:9/15/2013

Philadelphia, Pa. (September 13, 2013) Prescribing of strong opioid medications for non-cancer pain in the United States has nearly doubled over the past decade, reports a study in the October issue of Medical Care, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

At the same time, prescribing of non-opioid pain relievers has been stable or declined, according to the new research by Dr G. Caleb Alexander of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and colleagues. Dr Alexander comments, "There is an epidemic of prescription opioid addiction and abuse in the United States, and we felt it was important to examine whether or not this epidemic has coincided with improved identification and treatment of pain."

Opioid Prescribing for Non-Cancer Pain Increases

Using a nationally representative database of U.S. doctors' office visits, the researchers analyzed trends in visits for pain and medications prescribed for pain from 2000 to 2010. The study focused on trends in the use of strong opioid (morphine-related) pain medications for non-cancer pain. The study was performed in affiliation with the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, for which Dr Alexander serves as Co-Director.

The results showed no significant change in the proportion of doctor's office visits with pain. Throughout the decade, pain was consistently reported by patients or diagnosed by doctors at about one-fifth of visits. There was no change in the proportion of pain visits treated with pain relievers (analgesics).

However, there was a significant increase in prescriptions for opioid medications. The rate of opioid prescribing for pain visits increased from 11.3 percent in 2000 to 19.6 percent in 2010.

At the same time, prescribing of non-opioid pain-relieving drugs remained stable: between 2
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Contact: Connie Hughes
Connie.Hughes@wolterskluwer.com
646-674-6348
Wolters Kluwer Health
Source:Eurekalert

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