Physicians Are Prescribing Too Many Painkillers
The over-prescription of painkillers and other potentially hazardous drugs may be contributing to a rise in lethal drug overdoses, according to new research by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The drugs, often prescribed for chronic pain, include amphetamines such as Adderall; opioids like oxycodone; and benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax and Valium
To many people, the word “drugs” conveys illegal substances like cocaine and heroin, but the researchers cautioned that legal drugs are an even bigger problem. “More people in the U.S. die from a drug overdose than they do from motor vehicle accidents, and more of those deaths are caused by prescription opioids than those attributable to cocaine and heroin combined,” said G. Caleb Alexander, MD, MS, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School and co-director of the new Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness.
Although there are checks on the overuse of drugs like limits on the number of prescriptions an insurer will cover, and a rule that such drugs can be prescribed by just one physician, the Hopkins researchers said that isn’t enough. Unless there is a change in physicians’ overall prescribing practices, they said, the pattern will remain.