Doctors writing fewer painkiller Rxs

December 12, 2014

Ninety percent of primary care doctors recently surveyed said they are concerned about prescription drug abuse-and nearly half of those surveyed said they are less likely to prescribe powerful painkillers than just a year ago.

Ninety percent of primary care doctors recently surveyed said they are concerned about prescription drug abuse-and nearly half of those surveyed said they are less likely to prescribe powerful painkillers than just a year ago.

The survey was published in Dec. 8 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine. Internists, family doctors, and general practitioners were surveyed by mail; 420 responded.

Opioid prescribing by multiple providers drives up patient hospitalization rate

A whopping 85% of the respondents said they believe opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin are overused in clinical practice. About half of the physicians said they were very concerned about deaths, addictions, and traffic crashes linked to painkiller Rxs.

"Our findings suggest that primary care providers have become aware of the scope of the prescription opioid crisis and are responding in ways that are important, including reducing their over-reliance on these medicines," said study leader G. Caleb Alexander, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "The healthcare community has long been part of the problem, and now they appear to be part of the solution to this complex epidemic."

Alexander said doctors should consider treatments for pain other than opioid painkillers, including other types of pain drugs, physical therapy, massage, and acupuncture.

Although more than half of the doctors surveyed said patients becoming physically dependent on painkillers is a common problem, nearly 90% of the physicians said they were confident in their ability to appropriately prescribe painkillers.