Who are the largest prescribers of narcotic pain medication?
Your family physician.
15.3 million family practice physicians and 12.8 million internal medicine physicians wrote prescriptions for narcotic pain medication. For example, family practice doctors issued 15.3 million prescriptions, while internal medicine physicians (another type of primary care doctor) issued 12.8 million, researchers found.
“Overprescribing is a national concern, and mitigation efforts should not be oversimplified or targeted to a select few prescribers, or to regions of the country, or to patient populations or communities,” Victoria Richards told HealthDay. She is an associate professor of medical sciences at Quinnipiac University School of Medicine, in Hamden, Conn.
Researchers led by Dr. Jonathan Chen, of Stanford University, looked at data from 2013 Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage claims. They focused on prescriptions for narcotic painkillers containing hydrocodone (drugs such as Vicodin), oxycodone (Oxycontin and Percocet), codeine and others in the opioid class.
The study also found that nurse practitioners wrote 4.1 million prescriptions for narcotic painkillers while physician assistants ordered up 3.1 million.
This research is released as the debate intensifies over the use of narcotic pain medication. The Centers for Disease Control just this week (Dec. 14) decided to open up its public comment period for a month. Its proposed opioid prescribing guidelines have been controversial as much as how they were developed than what they say.
The lack of transparency by CDC and how the guidelines were developed prompted the Washington Legal Foundation to challenge the agency’s drafting process ran afoul of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
It also indicated that the Core Expert Panel the CDC put together might have been stacked with anti-opioid representatives. Numerous members of the Core Expert Group were on record as strongly supporting the need to tighten opioid-prescribing standards. The panel did not include physicians and others experienced with treating chronic pain, and featured only one pain-management expert, Dr. Jane Ballentyne. The group for which Dr. Ballentyne serves as President, Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP), has, among other activities, petitioned FDA to curb opioid use and lobbied Congress for legislative limits (PROP’s Vice President is also a member of CDC’s Core Expert Group).
Here’s the WLF letter to the CDC.