Doctors' group urges tighter controls on prescription painkillers

December 10, 2013
Doctors' group urges tighter controls on prescription painkillers
American College of Physicians issues guidelines for preventing these and other drugs from being abused.

(HealthDay)—Abuse of narcotic painkillers and other prescription drugs is a growing problem in the United States, and a leading doctors' group is urging members to exercise tighter control on the medications.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) says its recommended changes will make it tougher for —painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, as well as drugs used for sleep problems and weight loss—to be abused or diverted for sale on the street.

Prescription drug abuse may now be a prime cause of accidental death in the United States, according to a recent tally of preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One 2010 survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that 16 million Americans aged 12 and older had used a prescription painkiller, sedative, tranquilizer or stimulant for purposes other than their medical care at least once in the prior year.

One of the ACP's 10 recommendations highlighted the need to educate doctors, patients and the public about the dangers of . The guidelines also suggested that doctors consider the full range of available treatments before prescribing painkillers.

Among the other recommendations:

  • Evidence-based, nonbinding guidelines should be developed to help guide doctors' treatment decisions.
  • A national prescription-drug-monitoring program should be created, so doctors and pharmacists can check similar programs in their own and neighboring states before writing and filling prescriptions for substances with high abuse potential.

Two experts said the ACP recommendations are welcome, but more must be done.

"[The new guidelines] are spot on and can be effective, but in order to have any real impact on prescription drug abuse, the most important strategy they need to recommend would be proper addiction curriculum and education programs for all medical schools," said Janina Kean, president and CEO of High Watch Recovery Center, a drug rehab facility in Kent, Conn.

"There is a fundamental lack of education about addiction medicine and treating patients with substance-use disorders provided in medical school, as well as internships and residency programs," Kean said.

"For example, psychiatrists—the very person whose specialty is behavioral health—in many instances do not appropriately treat patients who have co-occurring addiction disorder," Kean said. "At High Watch, in case after case we have been confronted with patients who have achieved sobriety, then see a psychiatrist for an anxiety disorder and relapse after being prescribed a [drug] that is an addictive controlled substance."

Dr. Stephen Dewey researches addiction and the brain at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y. He called the ACP guidelines "excellent and perhaps long overdue," and said they are based on extensive and rigorous science.

"The ACP has acknowledged the roles played by physicians in this growing problem and is now offering suitable, effective and well-conceived strategies to address it," Dewey said. "The human and financial costs associated with prescription cannot be overstated. If fully implemented, [the guidelines] will have a direct and positive impact on the human condition."

The guidelines were published Dec. 9 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Explore further: Why do doctors abuse prescription drugs? 'Self-medication' is key reason

More information: The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about prescription drug abuse.

Related Stories

Why do doctors abuse prescription drugs? 'Self-medication' is key reason

October 4, 2013
Doctors who abuse prescription drugs often do so for "self-medication"—whether for physical or emotional pain or stress relief, reports a study in the October Journal of Addiction Medicine, the official journal of the American ...

Study supports need for more control over prescribed drugs for youths

November 7, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Teens who are prescribed pain relievers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, are at "notable risk" for abusing opioid drugs, says a University of Michigan researcher.

US seeks tighter controls on certain painkillers (Update)

October 24, 2013
The US Food and Drug Administration recommended tighter controls Thursday on how doctors prescribe the most commonly used narcotic painkillers, in a bid to stop abuse.

Drug addicts, dealers are 'Doctor shopping' for pain pills

July 18, 2013
(HealthDay)—One of every 50 prescriptions for addictive prescription painkillers in the United States is filled for so-called "doctor shoppers" who obtain the drugs for recreational use or resale on the street, a new study ...

ER study finds one in ten older teens misuse Rx painkillers, sedatives (Update)

October 28, 2013
With prescription drug abuse at epidemic levels nationwide, and overdoses killing more people than auto accidents in many states, a new University of Michigan study provides striking new data about the misuse of potent prescription ...

Saturday is national prescription drug take-back day

October 26, 2013
(HealthDay)—Do you have any expired or unused prescription medicines cluttering up your medicine cabinet? You can get rid of them safely and quickly at sites across the United States during National Prescription Drug Take-Back ...

Recommended for you

Mind-body therapies immediately reduce unmanageable pain in hospital patients

July 25, 2017
Mindfulness training and hypnotic suggestion significantly reduced acute pain experienced by hospital patients, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Study suggests ending opioid epidemic will take years

July 20, 2017
The question of how to stem the nation's opioid epidemic now has a major detailed response. A new study chaired by University of Virginia School of Law Professor Richard Bonnie provides extensive recommendations for curbing ...

Team-based model reduces prescription opioid use among patients with chronic pain by 40 percent

July 17, 2017
A new, team-based, primary care model is decreasing prescription opioid use among patients with chronic pain by 40 percent, according to a new study out of Boston Medical Center's Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine, which ...

Private clinics' peddling of unproven stem cell treatments is unsafe and unethical

July 7, 2017
Stem cell science is an area of medical research that continues to offer great promise. But as this week's paper in Science Translational Medicine highlights, a growing number of clinics around the globe, including in Australia, ...

Popular heartburn drugs linked to higher death risk

July 4, 2017
Popular heartburn drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have been linked to a variety of health problems, including serious kidney damage, bone fractures and dementia. Now, a new study from Washington University School ...

Most reproductive-age women using opioids also use another substance

June 30, 2017
The majority of reproductive-age and pregnant women who use opioids for non-medical purposes also use at least one other substance, ranging from nicotine or alcohol to cocaine, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.