CDC: Opioid prescriptions remain high despite recent decline

July 12, 2017

NBC Nightly News (7/6, story 7, 1:50, Guthrie) reported, “As this country battles the opioid drug crisis, the CDC reported today that far too many people are still being prescribed those highly addictive” pain medications “and for too long. The warning came despite the fact that the number of prescriptions was down actually over a five-year period.” The CDC’s Acting Director Anne Schuchat, MD, was shown saying, “Enough for every American to be on opioid medications around the clock for three weeks. That’s just too much.”

        The Washington Post (7/6, Bernstein) reports that the number of prescriptions written for opioid pain medications “declined between 2012 and 2015,” according to data by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. According to the Post, the data introduce “a glimmer of progress in efforts to quell the worst drug epidemic in US history.” According to Dr. Anne Schuchat, “It looks a little bit better, but you really have to put that in context. We’re still seeing too many people get too much for too long.” Dr. Schuchat said the reduction should be considered “prevention” of addiction, because “the fewer we get started, the fewer we get addicted to opioids.”

        The New York Times (7/6, Goodnough, Subscription Publication) reports that the CDC analysis found that the prescribing rate “fell by 18 percent between 2010 and 2015, though it increased in 23 percent of counties,” and is still “three times as high as in 1999, when the nation’s problem with opioid addiction was just getting started.” The analysis found “tremendous regional variation” in the prescription of opioids.

        STAT (7/6, Joseph) reports that the analysis “found that every part of the country had counties that had much higher prescribing rates than others, which officials said was a sign that clinicians did not have standards to use or disregarded them when prescribing opioids for pain.”

        For more information about how to help reverse the nation’s opioid epidemic, visit the AMA’s microsite, End the Opioid Epidemic.