Prescriptions for opioid painkillers are declining in the United States while prescriptions for medications to treat opioid addiction are on the rise, new data show. Since then, opioid prescriptions have dropped to 52 pills per adult, still well above the level in the early 2000s. South Dakota, where the volume of opioid scripts annually is the among the nation's fewest, had the smallest script drop - 9.9 percent.
In a further sign of progress, IQVIA reported a rise in new treatment starts for USA patients addicted to opioids, almost doubling from 44,000 in December 2015 to 82,000 in December 2017.
Meanwhile, treatment for opioid addiction is increasing.
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This study found that nationally, there has been a decrease in opioid prescriptions since 2013. All 50 states and the District of Columbia had declines of more than 5 percent, the study noted.
"We're at a really critical moment in the country when everybody's paying attention to this issue", Michael Kleinrock, the institute's research director, told The Chicago Tribune.
There was an even bigger decline in total dosage of opioid prescriptions filled in 2017, which were down 12 percent from 2016. "People really don't want them if they can avoid them".
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Insurers and drug stores began imposing similar limits on opioid use for acute pain, as opposed to cancer and chronic pain patients.
In 2014, CSMS launched its opioid committee, working with the AMA and medical societies in other states to address legislation and regulation, ranging from developing effective prescription drug monitoring programs, continuing medical education, restrictions on treatment for opioid use disorder as well as enactment of naloxone access. "That showed us there's an opportunity to prescribe a certain select group of patients zero opioids, and they may be able to take care of their pain with acetaminophen [Tylenol] or NSAIDs alone". It was the steepest drop-off in drug prescriptions for the entire year.
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