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U.S. Opioid Prescriptions Are Declining

By Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — AMERICA comes with an opioid epidemic, but there’s one bright spot in the fight it: Prescriptions for these addictive drugs have declined for patients with private insurance.

Amid guidelines in the last decade from governments, health systems and insurers targeted at reducing opioid prescriptions, previous studies have pointed to a nationwide drop in prescribing rates.

Patients that are actively receiving cancer treatments are excluded from those limits.

The brand new study included cancer patients along with people who have other chronic pain. It discovered that overall prescribing rates still dropped.

We discover that from 2012 to 2019 there have been declines in opioid prescribing for folks with chronic non-cancer pain and people with cancer without corresponding increases in receipt of non-opioid therapies,” authors Sachini Bandara and Emma McGinty of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and Dr. Mark Bicket of the University of Michigan, wrote.

The analysis was published Aug. 10 in PLOS ONE .

“These findings highlight the necessity to better know how declines in prescribing are influencing the management of pain among these patient populations, particularly because the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] happens to be updating opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain,” the authors said in a journal news release.

For the analysis, the researchers analyzed insurance claims from 100 private companies. They viewed patients with cancer and the ones with other forms of pain, including low back pain, neuropathic pain, headaches or arthritis.

Between 2012 and 2019, the percentage of individuals who have been prescribed an opioid for cancer-related pain dropped from 86% to 78.7%, the analysis found. Those that received opioid prescriptions for other styles of pain dropped from 49.7% to 30.5%.

While rates of non-opioid pain medication were steady for those who have non-cancer pain, researchers found they rose for cancer patients from 74.4% to 78.8%.

For individuals who still received opioids, fewer people received extremely high doses or even more when compared to a one-week supply, the researchers reported.

They said more study is required to understand how the revised guidelines influenced pain management in both groups.

More info

The U.S. Department of Health insurance and Human Services has more on the opioid epidemic.

SOURCE: PLOS ONE, news release, Aug. 10, 2022

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