Nearly 100% of physicians surveyed by the National Safety Council are prescribing addictive opioid medicines for longer than the three-day period recently recommended by the CDC, according to a March 24 online news release. The survey, which comes on the heels of the CDC’s new guidelines for prescribing opioids, also found 23% of the respondents prescribed the medications for at least one month, according to the release.
In addition, the survey found that 74% of the respondents believe morphine and oxycodone — both opioids — are the most effective ways to treat pain. But “research shows over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen offer the most effective relief for acute pain,” the news release stated.
Between March 5 and 13, the NSC surveyed 201 board-certified family medicine or internal medicine physicians who spend most of their time seeing patients in offices and who treat patients for pain, according to the recently published NSC report, “Prescriber attitudes and behavior related to prescription opioid pain medication.” The report was written by Don Teater, MD, medical adviser for the NSC’s prescription drug overdose initiatives. “Opioids do not kill pain; they kill people,” Teater said in the release.
“Doctors are well-intentioned and want to help their patients, but these findings are further proof that we need more education and training if we want to treat pain most effectively,” he said in the release.
On March 15, the CDC released new guidelines for prescribing opioids, stating these medications should not be given as “first-line therapy,” according to a March 17 online article in The Guardian. Three days of treatment or less is sufficient and the need to continue past a week is rare, according to the article. The guidelines also advise doctors on dosage limitations.
The nonbinding guidelines are for adults and are not intended to be followed for patients with cancer and end-of-life care, according to the CDC. “More than 40 Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses. We must act now,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a CDC news release.
“Overprescribing opioids — largely for chronic pain—is a key driver of America’s drug-overdose epidemic,” he said in the release.
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