Opioid Prescriptions Down From 2012 to 2015, CDC Says

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Too many people still take pain pills for too long, despite a nationwide decline in prescriptions for the addictive drugs, say federal health officials, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Prescribing rates for highly addictive painkillers such as oxycodone dropped from 81 to 71 prescriptions per 100 people between 2012 and 2015, says a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s acting director, expressed tempered optimism about the first national decline in opioid prescriptions that the CDC has reported since the crisis began in the late 1990s. Even at the reduced prescribing rate, enough opioids were ordered in 2015 to keep every American medicated around-the-clock for three weeks, she said.

The report shows opioid prescribing rates as much as six times higher in some counties than in others. “The findings suggest that we need more consistency among health care providers for prescribing. Too many opioid prescriptions are being written,” Schuchat said. “There are very few towns, cities or even families that don’t have some connection to the opioid problem.” The amount of opioids prescribed nationally peaked at the equivalent of 782 milligrams of morphine per person in 2010 and fell to 640 in 2015. The rate is still three times higher than it was in 1999 and four times as high as in some European countries, Schuchat said.

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