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"Prudent Prescribing: An Overview of Recent Federal and State Guidelines for Opioid Prescriptions," American Bar Association Health eSource

October 17, 2016
Patricia A. Markus , Ashley L. Thomas

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioid prescription sales have increased by 300 percent since 1999 without an overall change in pain reported by patients. Providers began prescribing large quantities of opioids in the 1990s following suggestions by pharmaceutical companies and some clinicians that they could safely be used to treat common conditions, such as chronic back pain. In 2012, healthcare providers wrote over 259 million opioid prescriptions, or the equivalent of one bottle of pills for every adult in the United States.

Claims that opioids could be used without risk of addiction have since been found to be false. According to CDC Director Thomas Frieden, prescription opioids are “just as addictive as heroin,” and prescribing opioids is a “momentous decision.” From 1999-2014, more than 165,000 individuals died from an opioid-related overdose in the United States. These alarming statistics reveal that opioid abuse is an increasingly serious public health issue. These same statistics, however, are spurring federal and state officials to take action. This article focuses on some of the recent federal and state attempts to combat the epidemic by changing opioid prescribing practices.

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