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National Survey of Physicians Reveals Common Misperceptions Concerning Misuse and Abuse of Opioids in Light of New Government Statistics

BALTIMORE, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Findings from a new national survey, sponsored by the American Pain Foundation, reveal misperceptions among physicians regarding the misuse and abuse of opioids. The results come in light of government statistics to be released today looking at the broader U.S. population, showing 2009 rates of nonmedical use of these products nationwide.(1)

According to the survey of physicians, a majority (56%) believe that only a small number of their patients misuse or abuse opioids obtained from a prescription.(2) In addition, more than half (52%) believe that the majority of cases of opioid abuse do not involve tampering with the medication's delivery system.(2) However, other published data show that 80% of prescription medication abusers seeking treatment chew, snort or use intravenous administration of oral medicines to attain an immediate high.(3), (4)

While 2009 numbers will be released today,(1) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) statistics from 2008 show that 35 million Americans aged 12 and older reported nonmedical use of prescription opioids during his or her lifetime.(5)

"Results from both surveys illustrate the need for improved health care professional and public education about appropriate opioid prescribing and safe use to help encourage responsible pain management," stated Will Rowe, Chief Executive Officer of the American Pain Foundation, a co-sponsor of the survey. "With over 76.5 million Americans struggling with pain, alleviating pain remains a medical imperative; however, it must be balanced with measures to address the misuse and abuse of prescription pain medication."

Additional findings from the survey reveal that physicians are acutely aware of the dangers of opioid misuse and abuse, and that the majority (87%) agree that most recreational users obtain these products from a legitimate prescription.(2) However, 41% of physicians surveyed personally do not take steps to prevent the misuse and abuse of opioids in their own homes.(2)

"These survey results highlight common misunderstandings about these medications, which can be addressed in the health care provider's office." Rowe continued, "By initiating an open dialogue about responsible pain management before and throughout the course of treatment, both clinicians and their patients can become part of the solution to this public health issue."

Key issues that should be discussed include proper dosing, storage and disposal of prescription medications to ensure that individuals and their loved ones are safe from the risks associated with these products, and potentially consider new treatment options. Several companies are developing pain medications designed to deter or prevent common forms of medication abuse and/or tampering. The potential for these pain medications to address common forms of misuse or abuse has not yet been demonstrated, however, the medical community is hopeful that long term epidemiological studies will show that these pain medications will have an effect on prescription opioid abuse rates.

About the Physician Perspective Toward Prescription Opioid Abuse and Misuse Survey  

The Physician Perspective Toward Prescription Opioid Abuse and Misuse Survey, for the American Pain Foundation was made possible by support from King Pharmaceuticals®, Inc. This was a national online poll conducted among 500 board-certified U.S. physicians who treat patients whose conditions require prescription opioids (primary care, neurologists, and orthopedic surgeons). The survey purpose was to gain a better understanding of prescriber awareness of opioid misuse and abuse, including prevalence, patient discussions, attitude, and sources of misused opioids. The study was conducted by WorldOne Healthcare Research in association with Medical Omnibus LLC from August 23 – August 30, 2010. All results were stratified by Census Region, specialty, practice (office or hospital-based) and number of patients. The margin of error of the study is +/- 4.4%.

About the American Pain FoundationFounded in 1997, the American Pain Foundation (APF) is an independent nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization serving people with pain through information, advocacy and support. The mission of APF is to improve the quality of life of people by raising public awareness, providing practical information, promoting research and advocating to remove barriers and increase access to effective pain management. For more information, visit


  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. National survey on drug use and health to be unveiled in conjunction with 21st annual Recovery Month observance. Accessed September 15, 2010.
  2. American Pain Foundation. Physician perspective toward prescription opioid abuse and misuse: summary of findings. 2010.
  3. Passik S, Hays L, Eisner N, Kirsh K. Psychiatric and pain characteristics of prescription drug abusers entering drug rehabilitation. J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2006;20(2):5-13.
  4. Jayawant SS, Balkrishnan R. The controversy surrounding OxyContin abuse: issues and solutions. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2005;1(2):77-82.
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2008 national survey on drug use and health: national findings. Accessed September 15, 2010.

Related links:http://www.painfoundation.orgEXECUTIVE OFFICESAMERICAN PAIN FOUNDATION201 N. CHARLES STREET, SUITE 710, BALTIMORE, MD 21201-4111American Pain Foundation Contact: Tina Regester, Communications Manager(443) 690-4707Media Contact:Laurie Masonson, Ruder Finn, Inc.(212) 583-2793

SOURCE American Pain Foundation
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