Opioids Prescriptions Decline In The US For The First Time In Two Decades

First Posted: May 23, 2016 05:00 AM EDT

The number of opioid prescriptions has finally decreased for the first time in two decades in the United States. Data shows that in the past three years in 2013, 2014 and 2015 the opioid prescriptions have dropped.

Opioids include drugs that fall within the class of oxycodone (e.g. Percocet, Oxycontin), morphine (e.g. Avinza, Kadian), hydrocodone (e.g. Vicodin), codeine and other related drugs. They are considered painkillers in which they lessen the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling the emotion. This diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus.

On the other hand, the opioid is addictive. It leads to opioid dependence that causes overdose deaths. The CDC reports that the rates of opioid overdose become higher from 7.9 per 100,000 in 2013 to 9.0 per 100,000 in 2014. Medscape stated that there are about 17,000 deaths yearly from the overdose of the said drug.

The experts and the physician's warnings about the highly addictive nature of the drugs and even the federal and state efforts to lessen the prescriptions have finally effects. Dr. Bruce Psaty, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle said that the culture is changing. He added that they are on the drawback of opioid prescribing now.

According to IMS Health, the opioid prescriptions have declined in 49 states since 2013. West Virginia, the center of the opioid epidemic, Oklahoma and Texas have the sharpest decreases. On the other hand, the South Dakota showed an increase. IMS Health states that there is about 12 percent decrease in opioid prescriptions nationally. Meanwhile, the Symphony Health Solutions reported an 18 percent drop during those years, according to New York Times.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse said that the urgency of the epidemic, its harmful consequences, demands interventions that in some instances may make it harder for some patients to get their medication. He further explained that they need to set up a system to make sure they are covered. He added that they cannot continue the prescription practice of opioids the way they have and concluded that they just can't.

On the other hand, some argue saying that the curbing of prescription is penalizing the patients who take the medicines responsibly and need them for relief. Dr. Daniel Carr, the director of Tufts Medical School's program on pain research education and policy said that the climate has definitely shifted. He explained that is now one of averseness, fear of consequences and impediment with administrative hurdles. He added that a lot of patients who need opioids have been caught up in that response.


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