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Meds and you

06 April 2011

Opioids now most prescribed class of medications

A research report shows that there has been a drastic increase in opioid prescriptions while prescriptions for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have gone down.

Two reports by addiction researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse show a drastic shift in prescribing patterns impacting the magnitude of opioid substance abuse in America.

The JAMA Research Report shows that there has been a drastic increase in opioid prescriptions while prescriptions for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have gone down. Prescriptions for hydrocodone and oxycodone account for 84.9 % of opioid prescriptions. Over ten years, there has been a fivefold increase in admissions to substance abuse programs for opioid addiction.

Researchers suggest targeting the relatively high rate of prescriptions to adolescents and young adults, who received 11.7% of the 202 million opioid prescriptions in the United States during 2009.

A large share of the prescriptions to young adults was from dentists, and researchers believe there is a need for medical professionals to evaluate alternative pain medications in this particularly vulnerable age group.

  • Comprehensive and contemporary training for pain management care providers –including physicians, nurses, dentists and pharmacists – covering the latest research advances on pain and addiction and new drug treatment options.
     
  • Supporting the American Pain Society guidelines, which include plans to develop and roll out screening procedures for those at risk for abuse and dependence (e.g. adolescent or young adults, individual or family history of substance abuse history.)
     
  • Increasing public awareness and responsibility of the addiction risks, to curb sharing or theft of the medication within families.

 

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