Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Opioid Prescribing Drops Nationally, Still High in Counties

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Opioid Prescribing Drops Nationally, Still High in Counties

Article excerpt

Opioid prescribing in the United States declined overall between 2010 and 2015, but remained stable or increased in some counties, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings were published online in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"The bottom line remains: We have too many people getting too many prescriptions at too high a dose," Anne Schuchat, MD, acting director of the CDC, said in a July 6 teleconference.

Providers in the highest-prescribing counties prescribed six times more opioids per person than in the lowest-prescribing counties in 2015, she noted.

CDC researchers calculated prescribing rates from 2006 to 2015 by dividing the number of opioid prescriptions by the population estimates from the U.S. census for each year and created quartiles using morphine milligram equivalent per capita to analyze opioid distribution. Annual opioid prescribing rates increased from 72 to 81 prescriptions per 100 persons from 2006 to 2010 and remained relatively constant from 2010 to 2012 before showing a 13% decrease to 71 prescriptions per 100 persons from 2012 to 2015 (MMWR. 2017 Jul 7;66[26]:697-704. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6626a4).

But despite these overall declines, "We are now experiencing the highest overdose death rates ever recorded in the United States," Dr. Schuchat said. Quartiles were created using MME per capita to characterize the distribution of opioids prescribed.

In the report, areas associated with higher opioid prescribing rates on a county level included small cities or towns, areas that had a higher proportion of white residents, areas with more doctors and dentists, and areas with more cases of arthritis, diabetes, or other disabilities, she said.

The findings suggest a need for more consistency among health care providers about prescription opioids, Dr. …

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