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Mayo Clinic research finds number of opioid prescriptions remains unchanged

The lead author says these finds were surprising given the increased awareness of opioid abuse.

Posted: Aug. 1, 2018 8:36 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. – The opioid epidemic is well-known across the nation. Regardless of the awareness, new research from Mayo Clinic finds that the number of opioid prescriptions have remained unchanged.

Researchers looked at national trends of opioid prescribing over the last 10 years. Even though in the last five years they’ve found that prescriptions are leveling off, they’re not decreasing in most of the groups they studied.

Molly Jeffery is the lead author of this research, and a scientific director of the Mayo Clinic Division of Emergency Medicine Research. She said these findings were surprising given the increased awareness of opioid abuse.

“I think there's been sort of a sense that we can just set policies and laws and say 'no more high dose opioids’ or no more long-term opioids,'” Jeffery said. “The problem with that is there is absolutely no one-size fits all answer to chronic pain.”

She said there needs to be more treatment options for chronic pain, and better access to ones that exist.

Jeffery also mentions that the U.S. uses more opioids than any other country. One thing she thinks can be happening is for surgeons to look at their data.

“Just to look at the data they have to who they prescribe to and how much,” Jeffery said, “and decide whether they think that's the right amount. Because I think right now most don't have a lot of visibility into what prescribing looks like, either for their own patients as a whole or for patients within their department.”

Mayo Clinic says they’re researching prescribing practices to find the ideal doses for what each patient needs.

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