By: Bethany Winkel
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New Study Again Shows Widespread Misuse of Prescription Painkillers
A new review, published in the April edition of the journal Pain, reiterates just how big of a problem prescription drug abuse really is in America. According to the study, which was done by researchers at the University of New Mexico, almost a quarter of narcotic painkillers that are prescribed for chronic pain are misused, and the rate of addiction among patients is 10 percent.
“On average, misuse was documented in approximately one out of four or five patients, and addiction [was found] in approximately one out of 10 or 11 patients,” said study author Kevin Vowles. “If it is accurate that approximately one in four patients on opioids display patterns of opioid misuse, but not addiction, then perhaps more efficient targeting of treatment resources would be of benefit.” Researchers believe that better education and monitoring of those on prescription narcotics, as well as better resources for treatment when necessary, will greatly reduce addiction and abuse rates.
The FDA is continuing to regulate prescription painkillers and assess their likelihood to be misused or abused. According to NIH, drug manufacturers are still looking into developing painkillers that cannot be altered and made into illegal drugs. “The FDA is focused on the development of opioids with abuse-deterrent formulations,” Dr. Douglas Throckmorton of the FDA said. “To combat opioid abuse and misuse, FDA is encouraging manufacturers to develop abuse-deterrent drugs that work correctly when taken as prescribed, but are formulated in such a way that someone cannot easily modify them for the purposes of abuse.”
As this study shows, however, one of the best ways to keep people from becoming addicted to painkillers in the first place is to educate patients about the dangers of abusing prescription medications.
Read more about the study here.