Family Physicians Prescribe Opioids the Most

Family Physicians Prescribe Opioids the Most

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.

Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Debbie Kivela

I want to keep this simple. I believe this action by the CDC to control and greatly reduce opiod prescriptions is secretly rooted in big pharm interests. As soon as they get their way , all kinds of new, non-narcotic pain relieving “new”drugs will be pushed on us by doctors and pain management clinics. High prices for these will line the greedy pharm companies pockets better than reasonable oxycodone and other older drugs that are safer and WORK . I do not believe they are concerned over patient addiction or death. If they were, they should be looking at all the lethal drugs now on the market, like Leviquin and statins. Go after the ABUSERS, and the people and medical community who allow the abuse!

H. Berman

My husband has taken hydrocodone for several years. He has osteoarthritis and suffers chronic pain even with the drug. Without it he would not be able to function. He is very careful and takes as little as he can manage. His PCP monitors him closely. I don’t know how he would manage without the drug. I know there are those who abuse opioids, but those who truly need them and don’t abuse them should not be made to suffer.


The problem is that patientsomething who truly need pain medications are going to suffer. Doctors wouldn’t think twice about giving pain meds to someone with cancer yet there are many conditions where patients need pain meds and now doctors are scared to prescribe. Not everyone is an abuser and each case needs to be considered and understood. It’s horrible when you have to watch someone you love live in pain, because of a disease that is not well understood and doctors don’t want to give pain meds. I’ve worked in health care for 35 years so I know what I’m talking about.


Duh! My primary sent me to a ‘pain clinic’ where I was put on my medication. Then, my care was transferred back to my primary. If the primary feels the medication should be reviewed periodically, I go back to the pain clinic.


It makes sense that pcp’s would be the primary prescribers of pain meds. Pcp’s can prescribe pain meds for chronic pain , if they chose to. Pcp’s are also the first drs seen with most injuries and illnesses. Pcp’s often prescribe pain meds for a patient until they can get into to see a specialist and/or have diagnostic test done. There are also things that pcp’s treat that oocassionally require pain meds for a short time.

Paul McCoy

Corruption in our country knows no limit. It does not matter what the title or the position, we seem to always find the ugly head of corruption.