Around 30% of Opioid Prescriptions Lack Medical Explanation, Says Study

The country is heavily affected by the opioid overdose issues happening across regions. A recently-published study might have found a major factor in this process. According to this study, 30% of opioid prescriptions do not have a major medical explanation. It means that doctors have prescribed opioids without finding the proper set of symptoms or reasons. Normally, prescription of an opioid requires a particular symptom such as severe back pain. The data from the study, however, shows that 30% of prescriptions do not have such a valid reason. This basically means that around one-third of opioid prescriptions are not medically valid.

Considering the last 10 years, the study found that 809 million outpatient visitors were prescribed some kind of opioid. While 66.4% of them were for non-cancer-related needs, 5.1% of those prescriptions were made for cancer-related treatments. However, the problem lies with the remaining 28.5%, which do not show an accurate symptom or reason for the prescription. The research was conducted by Harvard Medical School and Rand Corporation. It makes it very unclear why 30% of these prescriptions were made by the physicians at the places.

“Many outpatient opioid prescriptions between 2006 and 2015 had no documented medical indication. Opioid dependence accounted for only 2.2% of diagnoses at these visits and thus cannot explain this discrepancy. Our sensitivity analysis showed that these results were not driven by constraints on the survey form, says the study.”

However, the research team believes that the data used for the research is quite limited and the impact of unsupported prescriptions can be higher than expected. The data does not include 100% of prescriptions that were made in non-outpatient places. Also, multiple visits are not properly recorded by all sources. However, the lead scientists behind the research are sure that the issue should be taken seriously if the opioid crisis is to be fixed.

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