New study supports notion of skewed opioid prescribing
A new study adds further evidence to suggest that opioid prescribing in the U.S. is skewed and concentrated among a few providers. Researchers looked at prescribing patterns in data from an unspecified national private insurer between 2003-2017. Around 670,000 providers prescribed more than 8 million standard doses of opioid prescriptions — but more than a quarter of these prescriptions were written by only 1% of physicians. And in 2017, these physicians prescribed nearly half of all the dispensed opioids. This small group of doctors also prescribed higher doses than recommended, and for longer durations than guidelines allow. What’s encouraging, the authors suggest, is that the vast majority of physicians do seem to follow guidelines. Some caveats: The study was based on one company’s data, and didn’t look at medical reasons behind prescriptions.
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