Opioid prescriptions up, but pain treatment unimproved: study

PILLS.jpgPrescription opioid use has skyrocketed over the last decade, but the identification and treatment of pain has failed to improve – and the use of non-opioid analgesics has plateaued, or even declined, a new study has found.

The study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, published Sept. 13 in the journal Medical Care, analyzed trends from 2000 to 2010 associated with patients seeking medical treatment for non-cancer pain, and found no significant change in the proportion of pain visits – approximately one-half – treated with pain relievers.

During that time period, opioid prescriptions nearly doubled, from 11% in 2000 to 19% in 2010, the study found. In addition, of approximately 164 million pain visits in 2010, roughly half were treated with some kind of pain relieving drug: 20% with an opioid and 27% with a non-opioid pain reliever, according to the study.

The information comes just after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced new labeling changes and postmarket study requirements for extended-release and long-acting opioid analgesics. According to the agency, the changes are aimed at combatting “the crisis of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose, and death from these potent drugs that have harmed too many patients and devastated too many families and communities.”

About Erin Marie Daly

I’m a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. My book on prescription drug and heroin addiction was published in August 2014 by Counterpoint Press.
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One Response to Opioid prescriptions up, but pain treatment unimproved: study

  1. This is a serious problem. National studies show that it is more likely to have abused a prescription drug than an illegal street drug. Many think prescription drugs are safe because they were prescribed by a doctor. But taking them for nonmedical use to get high or “self-medicate” can be just as dangerous and addictive as taking illegal street drugs.
    There are very serious health risks in taking prescription drugs. This is why they are taken only under the care of a doctor. And even then, they have to be closely monitored to avoid addiction or other problems.

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