Too Much? From the Office of Dr. Study cites concern over doctors' prescribing habits

Family physicians are the largest prescribers of opioid pain medications, even outpacing pain specialists, according to a recent study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. The findings reinforce the need for prevention efforts that focus on prescribing behaviors of physicians as well as patients who are at risk of overdosing, the researchers say. “Overprescribing is a national concern, and mitigation efforts should not be oversimplified or targeted to a select few prescribers, or to regions of the country, or to patient populations or communities,” says Victoria Richards, associate professor of medical sciences at Quinnipiac University School of Medicine, in a HealthDay article on the study. According to the advocacy group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, many prescribers underestimate the risks associated with opioids – especially the risk of addiction – and overestimate their effectiveness.

Prescription rates vary

painkiller prescriptions per person as those in the lowest prescribing state. Yet, health conditions that cause people pain do not vary much from place to place and do not explain this variability in prescriptions issued. These latest findings add fuel to those who advocate for stricter oversight of narcotic pain medication. Approximately

44 people die each day from prescription opioids, and opioid- related deaths have tripled since the 1990s. More than 80 percent of these deaths are accidental or unintentional, according to the CDC, which estimates that up to 60 percent of opioid overdose deaths occur in people without a prior history of substance abuse.

Another indicator of the need for more scrutiny of prescribing practices is that prescribing rates for opioids vary widely among states, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2012, health care providers in the highest-prescribing state wrote almost three times as many opioid

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