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U.S. Public and Doctors'* Misperceptions Revealed in National Survey Demonstrate Urgent Need for Increased Opioid Dependence Awareness

RICHMOND, Va., June 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite the growing population of individuals living with opioid dependence (addiction) and significant media coverage about this U.S. epidemic, a new national survey reveals both U.S. adults and primary care doctors harbor a variety of misperceptions and stereotypes about opioid dependence that may impact the way the disease – and those living with it – are treated.  The survey,+ which involved more than 1,000 adults ages 26-49 ("adults") and 200 non-Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) 2000 certified primary care doctors ("doctors"), was conducted online by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc. to understand U.S. attitudes about opioid dependence – also known as prescription painkiller and heroin addiction – and treatment for the disease.

Opioid Dependence Misunderstood as a Disease
Nearly half (47%) of all adults surveyed reported having a personal connection with addiction and almost one-in-eight (12%) personally struggled with addiction – more than diabetes (7%) or cancer (3%).  Two-thirds of adults (68%) and nearly nine-in-ten doctors (87%) agree opioid dependence affects millions of Americans and three-quarters of adults (76%) and the majority of doctors (96%) are aware misuse or abuse of opioid prescription painkillers poses a significant burden on the U.S. healthcare system. While nearly nine-in-ten doctors (88%) recognize addiction as a disease, only about six-in-ten adults (59%) agree.  In fact, over two-thirds (68%) of adults and eight-in-ten doctors (80%) say opioid dependence represents a mental health problem, and nearly half of adults (45%) and almost one-third of doctors (30%) believe opioid dependence is more of a psychological problem (e.g., lifestyle choice) rather than a physical illness (e.g., chronic disease).

Doctors Perpetuating Disease Stigma   
Stigma may be a possible barrier to treatment – more than three-fourths (77%) of adults and most doctors (93%) mention shame or embarrassment, fear that others will find out and/or fear of putting life on hold as reasons why those suffering from addiction would refrain from seeking treatment.  But these barriers can be broken with greater understanding of the nature of the disease. 

While nine-in-ten adults (91%) and doctors (92%) agree opioid dependence can happen to anyone, doctors feel a low level of education (66%) and a low income (57%), among other factors, could cause someone to be more likely to experience opioid dependence. Yet opioid dependence is an equal opportunity condition, affecting individuals of all ages, genders, races and socioeconomic status.1

Additional misconceptions persist among doctors.  Only about one-quarter of doctors (27%) believe any doctor can prescribe medication to treat someone with opioid dependence. Further, when asked why they have not received DATA 2000 certification to dispense or prescribe certain FDA approved medication for maintenance treatment of opioid dependence, one-third of doctors (31%) said they don't need DATA 2000 certification to treat patients with opioid dependence or prefer not to treat patients with the disease (7%). These doctors most commonly cited the following reasons: the patient population is difficult to treat (78%)++; it would require an overwhelming amount of paperwork or take up time their office staff and they do not have the ability to give (61%)++; and not wanting their practice to be viewed as an "addiction" practice (55%)++.

"The stigma that unjustly exists towards those who suffer from opioid dependence could negatively impact or even prevent people from receiving the care they need," said Mark L. Kraus, M.D., FASAM, assistant clinical professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and a fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).  "What is eye-opening about the survey is the realization that the treatment community has contributed to perpetuating it; there is a desperate need for doctors who are willing to treat opioid dependence as they would other chronic diseases."

Relapse is Accepted as Inevitable
Two-thirds of adults (67%) and a similar proportion of doctors (65%) believe opioid dependence can be cured, and the vast majority of adults (92%) and doctors (98%) say the disease is treatable. Yet only about two-thirds of adults (35%) and nearly one-quarter of doctors (21%) agree a stay at a rehabilitation clinic is very effective, and more than half of adults (56%) and over two-thirds of doctors (69%) believe the vast majority of people living with opioid dependence will experience a relapse. 

Nearly three-quarters of adults (71%) and an even greater proportion of doctors (85%) agree people living with addiction do not seek help because they believe they can stop on their own.  However, the majority of adults (83%) and an even greater proportion of doctors (92%) agree people recovering from opioid dependence need a long-term combination of medication and behavioral changes to be successful with treatment.  Nearly three-in-five adults (58%) and even more doctors (73%) strongly support the use of prescription medication to treat opioid dependence. Yet only about four-in-ten adults (44%) are aware obtaining prescription medication from a doctor is a treatment option.

"The survey sheds light on barriers beyond the commonly perceived lack of patient recognition of the disease and motivation to seek treatment.  As a pioneer in office-based treatment for opioid dependence, Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals is committed to doing everything we can to raise awareness about this disease and help reduce the misperceptions, stigma and stereotypes surrounding it," said Richard Simkin, president of Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals. "Finding new ways to reach those suffering in silence and help them overcome their addiction is at the forefront of everything we do, and the information we've garnered from this survey will serve as a strong cornerstone for our future educational efforts among both the U.S. public and doctors."

Education is critical, as two-thirds of adults (67%) and more than one-third of doctors (35%) still feel like they do not know much about opioid dependence.  In fact, nearly half (44%) of adults and (92%) of doctors associate prescription painkillers with opioid dependence, whereas over half of adults (55%) and over two-in-three doctors (69%) associate heroin with opioid dependence.  For many adults (75%) "dependence" is synonymous with "addiction," while for more than half of doctors (57%) it is not. 

The general public and healthcare community can learn more about opioid dependence, obtain tools to help manage doctor visit conversations, and "find a doctor" in the local area who understands how to treat opioid dependence in a private setting by visiting

Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, in addition to nine other public and private organizations, also have provided unrestricted funding to the American Society of Addiction Medicine to research public and private payer policies for opioid dependence pharmacotherapies as well as the clinical and cost effectiveness of these medications.  The results of this research will be announced later this month.

About Opioid Dependence
Often stigmatized as bad behavior, poor judgement and weak morals on the part of the patient, opioid dependence is a chronic, relapsing disease caused in part by pervasive changes in the brain's chemistry that can result from regular use of opioids, such as oxycodone, morphine and heroin. These long-lasting changes can interfere with normal brain functioning, fooling the brain into thinking the opioid is necessary for survival, and resulting in drug-seeking behavior and dependency. As with other chronic diseases, opioid dependence can be successfully treated, but not cured; treatment options can include a combination of medication and behavioral changes.

+Survey Methodology
The survey of 1,002 U.S. adults age 26 to 49 ("adults") was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals between January 2 and 7, 2013. The survey of 200 primary care, family practice and internal medicine physicians practicing in the United States, who at the time of the study, were not certified under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) 2000 to treat opioid dependence as part of their practice ("doctors") was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals between March 13 and 22, 2013, were surveyed. To ensure the survey results were nationally representative, data for the general population were weighted on income, education, ethnicity, region, age within gender and propensity to be online, while the doctors' data were weighted on years in practice by gender.

About Turn To Help®
Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals created the Turn To Help® initiative to increase public awareness of opioid dependence and to provide much needed resources to people living with this chronic disease. The centerpiece of the initiative is, an educational website created to help inform the public what opioids are, how they affect the brain, risk factors for developing the disease and how dependence can begin. Included is a brief, 10-question screening test to assess risk of opioid dependence. Additionally, a doctor locator tool to help people find a local doctor who treats and understands opioid dependence is available on the website. 

About Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a specialty pharmaceutical company committed to expanding education and access to medical therapies for patients suffering from the chronic, relapsing brain disease of opioid dependence. The company manufactures and markets medications that, in conjunction with counseling and psychosocial support, treat opioid dependence. Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Reckitt Benckiser Group plc, a global company publicly traded on the UK stock exchange.

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit


1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. September 23, 2010. Accessed June 4, 2013.

* Primary care, internal medicine and family medicine physicians who were not Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) 2000 certified.

+ More than 1,000 adults ages 26-49 ("adults") were surveyed between January 2-7, 2013 and 200 non-  DATA 2000 certified primary care doctors ("doctors") were surveyed between March 13-22, 2013.

++ Small base (n<100).  Results are directional.

SOURCE Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc.
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