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article imageDespite warnings the number of opioid prescriptions is unchanged

By Tim Sandle     Aug 4, 2018 in Health
Despite warnings issued in many countries about addition to opioids, the numbers of pills taken show no sign of decreasing according to a new review focusing on U.S. healthcare.
The research, which comes from the Mayo Clinic, indicates while there has been considerable attention in the media, plus several medical warnings, opioid abuse remains an issue and, in terms of prescriptions issued by medics, use of these medications remains relatively unchanged. This is based on a review of U.S. patients.
The new research is not only of medical importance, it signals how messages from policy makers do not always translate into public action. This could be due to the ineffectiveness of the message; or a resistance by doctors to alter prescribing rates. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses killed 63,632 U.S. citizens in 2016. Of these, nearly two-thirds of these deaths (66 percent) involved a prescription or illicit opioid.
Further data suggests that between 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them ("Rates of opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction in chronic pain: a systematic review and data synthesis") and between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder ("Predictors of transition to heroin use among initially non-opioid dependent illicit pharmaceutical opioid users: A natural history study)".
With the new study, researchers looked at 48 million U.S. patients who had insurance coverage between 2007 and 2016. The analysis showed that hover one year, 14 percent of commercially insured patients, 26 percent of Medicare Advantage patients 65 and older, and 52 percent of disabled Medicare Advantage patients received an opioid prescription. Over the course of ten years, many of these people who had been prescribed opioids continued to take them. Taking one part of the research as an example, over a six year period, the average daily dose increased from the equivalent of seven pills of 5-milligram oxycodone to a high of about nine pills in 2012
The new research has been published in the British Medical Journal. The research paper is titled "Trends in opioid use in commercially insured and Medicare Advantage populations in 2007-16: retrospective cohort study."
More about opioid prescriptions, opioids, Addiction, Medicine
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