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Opioid Prescription in United States Experience Decrease After 2 Decades

May 23, 2016 10:45 PM EDT
Opioid Painkillers
Opioid Presciptions in the United States have decrease after 20 years due to the stricter guidelines in prescriptions and tremendous efforts of health care facilites to fight opioid addiction.
(Photo : John Moore/Getty Images)

For the past two decades, the numbers of opioid prescriptions have been on a steady rise. However, due to the relentless efforts of some researchers and scientists detailing the risk of opioid addiction and the stricter guidelines imposed by the Food and Drug Administration, the amount of opioid prescription sees a sustainable drop after 20 years.

Opioid prescriptions in the United States have reached an alarming number at 260 million prescriptions a year, which is enough for every American adult to have a bottle of opioid pills.

According to the analysis of The New York Times, physicians are now thinking twice before prescribing opioid medications for their patient's pain. IMS Health reported a 12 percent decline in opioid prescriptions in the United States since reaching peak in 2012 while Symphony Health Solutions recorded a 18 percent drop during the same period. IMS also noted that 49 states have experienced a drop in opioid prescription since 2013.

However, even with the drop in prescriptions, researchers are still unsure how it will affect opioid addiction and opioid-related deaths in the United States.

"The deaths are still - have still been rising. The latest year we have is 2014 and that's about - a bit more than 28,000 opioid deaths, about 18,000 are prescription and 10,000 are heroin and other illegal drugs. And overprescribing have been very closely associated with the rise in deaths and the rise in overdoses," said Sabrina Tavernise, one of the author of the analysis told PBS Newshour in an interview.

Tavernise believes that the drop in opioid prescription might potentially lead to a significant decrease in opioid overdose leading to death.

"And the hope is that the decline in prescribing is sort of a harbinger or a signal that the life cycle of this epidemic maybe on the down lope now," Tavernise added.

Despite the drop in opioid prescription, opioid overdose remains a problem due to the shifting of some addicts, which are unable to acquire prescription, to an easily accessible and much stronger alternative, heroin.

Nevertheless, the drop of opioid prescription will still have an impact to opioid addiction in the United States.

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