Nav: Home

Who's writing prescriptions for opioid pain relievers?

December 14, 2015

While prescriptions for opioid pain relievers were concentrated in specialties for pain, anesthesia, and physical medicine and rehabilitation, it was general practitioners who dominated total prescriptions among Medicare prescribers based on sheer volume, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers have suggested small groups of prolific prescribers and pill mills drive the opioid overdose epidemic. Medicare data provide an opportunity to examine prescribing patterns across a national population.

Anna Lembke, M.D., of Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., and coauthors examined data from individual prescribers including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and dentists from prescription drug coverage claims in the 2013 Medicare Part D claims data set. About 68 percent of the 50 million people on Medicare are covered by Part D.

The data represent more than 1.1 billion claims for nearly $81 billion. The authors focused on opioid prescriptions containing hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, methadone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, meperidine, codeine, opium or levorphanol.

Based on claims per prescriber type, opioid prescriptions were concentrated in interventional pain management (1,124.9), pain management (921.1), anesthesiology (484.2) and physical medicine and rehabilitation (348.2) specialties, according to the results.

However, based on total claims, family practice (15.3 million), internal medicine (12.8 million), nurse practitioner (4.1 million) and physician assistant (3.1 million) were at the top, results show.

"High-volume prescribers are not alone responsible for the high national volume of opioid prescriptions. Efforts to curtail national opioid overprescribing must address a broad swath of prescribers to be effective," the research letter concludes.
-end-
(JAMA Intern Med. Published online Dec. 14, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.6662. Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com.)

Editor's Note: The study includes funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures.

Media Advisory: To contact study corresponding author Anna Lembke, M.D., call Ruthann Richter at 650-725-8047 or email richter1@stanford.edu

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Pain Articles:

Pain researchers get a common language to describe pain
Pain researchers around the world have agreed to classify pain in the mouth, jaw and face according to the same system.
It's not just a pain in the head -- facial pain can be a symptom of headaches too
A new study finds that up to 10% of people with headaches also have facial pain.
New opioid speeds up recovery without increasing pain sensitivity or risk of chronic pain
A new type of non-addictive opioid developed by researchers at Tulane University and the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System accelerates recovery time from pain compared to morphine without increasing pain sensitivity, according to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.
The insular cortex processes pain and drives learning from pain
Neuroscientists at EPFL have discovered an area of the brain, the insular cortex, that processes painful experiences and thereby drives learning from aversive events.
Pain, pain go away: new tools improve students' experience of school-based vaccines
Researchers at the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) have teamed up with educators, public health practitioners and grade seven students in Ontario to develop and implement a new approach to delivering school-based vaccines that improves student experience.
Pain sensitization increases risk of persistent knee pain
Becoming more sensitive to pain, or pain sensitization, is an important risk factor for developing persistent knee pain in osteoarthritis (OA), according to a new study by researchers from the Université de Montréal (UdeM) School of Rehabilitation and Hôpital Maisonneuve Rosemont Research Centre (CRHMR) in collaboration with researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).
Becoming more sensitive to pain increases the risk of knee pain not going away
A new study by researchers in Montreal and Boston looks at the role that pain plays in osteoarthritis, a disease that affects over 300 million adults worldwide.
Pain disruption therapy treats source of chronic back pain
People with treatment-resistant back pain may get significant and lasting relief with dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation therapy, an innovative treatment that short-circuits pain, suggests a study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2018 annual meeting.
Sugar pills relieve pain for chronic pain patients
Someday doctors may prescribe sugar pills for certain chronic pain patients based on their brain anatomy and psychology.
Peripheral nerve block provides some with long-lasting pain relief for severe facial pain
A new study has shown that use of peripheral nerve blocks in the treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia (TGN) may produce long-term pain relief.
More Pain News and Pain Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 3: Shared Immunity
More than a million people have caught Covid-19, and tens of thousands have died. But thousands more have survived and recovered. A week or so ago (aka, what feels like ten years in corona time) producer Molly Webster learned that many of those survivors possess a kind of superpower: antibodies trained to fight the virus. Not only that, they might be able to pass this power on to the people who are sick with corona, and still in the fight. Today we have the story of an experimental treatment that's popping up all over the country: convalescent plasma transfusion, a century-old procedure that some say may become one of our best weapons against this devastating, new disease.   If you have recovered from Covid-19 and want to donate plasma, national and local donation registries are gearing up to collect blood.  To sign up with the American Red Cross, a national organization that works in local communities, head here.  To find out more about the The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, which we spoke about in our episode, including information on clinical trials or plasma donation projects in your community, go here.  And if you are in the greater New York City area, and want to donate convalescent plasma, head over to the New York Blood Center to sign up. Or, register with specific NYC hospitals here.   If you are sick with Covid-19, and are interested in participating in a clinical trial, or are looking for a plasma donor match, check in with your local hospital, university, or blood center for more; you can also find more information on trials at The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. And lastly, Tatiana Prowell's tweet that tipped us off is here. This episode was reported by Molly Webster and produced by Pat Walters. Special thanks to Drs. Evan Bloch and Tim Byun, as well as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.