Prescription painkillers are the most abused type of prescription drugs in the United States. To address this problem, the American College of Physicians released recommended guidelines for preventing painkiller prescription abuse in the Dec. 9 edition of the journal Annuals of Internal Medicine.
The ACP recommendations come after a new study found that among 3,500 prescription drug abusers, 75 percent favored painkillers. The study also revealed that prescription drug abuse, especially abuse involving Vicodin and OxyContin, is significantly high.
Another study backs up this claim. A 2010 survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse discovered that 16 million Americans over age 12 had used a prescription painkiller, sedative, tranquilizer or stimulant at least once in the past year for reasons unrelated to medical purposes.
The list of ten ACP guidelines pushes for tighter controls on prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin, as well as other such as sleep aids and weight loss medications. The tighter guidelines aim to prevent drug use without a proper prescription and the dispersion of prescription drugs for sale on the street.
The recommendations include:
- The need to educate doctors, patients and the public about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and caution doctors to consider other available treatments before resorting to commonly abused prescription medication.
- Developing evidence-based, nonbinding recommendations to help guide doctors’ treatment decisions.
- Creation of a national prescription drug monitoring program that would allow doctors and pharmacists to check similar programs in their state or neighboring states before writing and filling prescriptions for medications with high rates of abuse.
“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,” said Dr. Stephen Dewey, researcher at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, NY, in a HealthDay article. [http://consumer.healthday.com/mental-health-information-25/addiction-news-6/doctors-group-urges-tougher-measures-on-prescription-painkillers-682765.html] “The human and financial costs associated with prescription drug abuse cannot be overstated. If fully implemented, [the guidelines] will have a direct and positive impact on the human condition.”