"While some variation in opioid prescribing is expected and linked to factors such as the prevalence of painful conditions, differences in these characteristics explain only a fraction of the wide variation in opioid prescribing across the United States", said Deborah Dowell, MD, MPH, chief medical officer in the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention at CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Clinicians ae encouraged to follow guidelines for prescribing, including the CDC's Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.
Gary Mendell, founder of the anti-drug advocacy group Shatterproof, said in a statement that while the CDC's numbers are a good start, real accountability in measuring opioid prescriptions comes with making those numbers transparent. For instance, health care providers in some counties in parts of Appalachia, the Southwest and New England prescribed the equivalent of 958 to 5,543 milligrams of morphine per capita two years ago. Daily MME per prescription remained stable from 2006 to 2010 and then decreased 17% from 2010 to 2015.
Overall, in 2015, Oklahoma saw an average of almost two unintentional poisoning deaths per day, and the majority of those deaths were drug overdoses caused by prescription drugs, said Avy Redus, who coordinates opioid-related projects at the state health department.
The CDC said they're seeing fewer doctors prescribing opioids, but still, too many people are reported to be using and abusing strong painkillers. "So it's important to remind your healthcare providers that you don't want-or need-a lengthy opioid prescription".
It's an 18% drop from 2010 - the year the most prescriptions were written - when patients received about 782 milligrams, officials said.
"Despite the observed reductions in opioid prescribing, opioid-involved overdose death rates continue to increase".
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The report is still a reason for some optimism the new data suggests that at least some doctors have gotten the message to cut down on opioid prescriptions.
While the CDC a year ago released a guideline for prescribers on the use of opioids - pointing to alternatives or smaller initial doses - states like CT created laws to stymie the flow of prescription opioids.
The report suggests the nation's health care providers already were making headway against the over-prescribing of opioids before the CDC issued new guidelines past year on opioids prescriptions. The US Department of Veterans Affairs and the US Department of Defense issued a similar set of guidelines in 2010 that focused on reducing prescribed dosages.
Since the new report covered data from 2006 to 2015, developments from these new recommendations had not been captured. The county has even taken to collecting unused prescriptions in drop-off boxes to clear medicine cabinets. "But our staff has done intensive analyses to see whether changing policies for prescription drugs shifts people into illicit use, and the answer is no".
The high-prescribing counties can be found across the country, including in Minnesota, particularly in the state's northeastern region.
SCHUCHAT: The bottom line is that too many are still getting too much for too long, and that is driving our problem with drug overdoses and drug overdose deaths in the country.