Study: Opioid Prescription Trends Cause Worry among Physicians


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A recent study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds that almost half of primary care physicians say they are less likely to prescribe opioids as a pain treatment today than one year ago. Nine out of ten of these physicians claimed abuse of prescription drugs is a significant problem in their communities.

“Prescribers are saying that they’re prescribing more cautiously today than they were” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an author of the study. “That doesn’t necessarily mean prescribing has gone down.”

The study, which reached out to over 500 internists, physician and general practitioners and was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, shows that 85% percent of respondents think opioids are prescribed too often. However, nine in ten respondents claimed that they themselves can prescribe opioids safely.

“I think they may have that perception because people generally have a positive view of their own abilities,” Kolodny said.

Majorities of respondents agreed that detrimental effects of opioids such as tolerance and physical dependence can occur even if patients use their prescriptions as directed. This may be due to the overly aggressive prescribing of opioids.

April Rovero, founder of the National Coalition against Prescription Drug Abuse, says that the survey should have included dentists.

“Dentists routinely prescribe Vicodin and other narcotics after dental procedures,” she said. “Bottom line is, I believe there’s still a lot more work to be done to educate our physicians (and dentists) about what they should be doing to help curb prescription drug abuse.”

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