Those at risk for opioid misuse prescribed the drug at same rate as general public


Patients at risk for opioid misuse were prescribed opioids for noncancer pain at a similar rate to those not at risk, Saint Louis University researchers found.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidance in 2016 on prescribing opioids for noncancer pain. Researchers reviewed electronic medical record data for 5 million adults for the 18 months before and after the guidance was issued.

A total of 279,435 patients had a painful condition not caused by cancer and were prescribed codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, or tramadol.

“Except for a 14 percent decrease in oxycodone prescriptions, we found no evidence for substantial changes in odds of receiving a Schedule II opioid versus tramadol in the 18 months after the CDC guidance, compared with before the guidance,” Dr. Jeffrey Scherrer, a professor in Family and Community Medicine at the university, said.

Researchers also discovered patients with psychiatric disorders were prescribed hydrocodone and oxycodone at similar rates to those who did not suffer from these disorders.

The study was limited by its data as researchers could not determine whether prescriptions were appropriate on an individual basis.

The study, Comparison of Opioids Prescribed for Patients at Risk for Opioid Misuse Before and After CDC Opioid Prescribing Guidelines, was published online on JAMA Network Open.