Study: Opioid prescriptions have dropped 29 percent since 2011

Study: Opioid prescriptions have dropped 29 percent since 2011
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Opioid prescriptions have declined by 29 percent since 2011 as the country tries to fight the epidemic of painkiller abuse, according to a new report.

The study from the Iqvia Institute for Human Data Science finds that opioid prescriptions peaked in 2011 after rising throughout the previous decade to an average of 72 pills per adult American. Since then, opioid prescriptions have dropped to 52 pills per adult, still well above the level in the early 2000s.

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The decline accelerated in 2017, dropping about 10 percent that year, the study finds. The report said “greater restrictions, patient awareness and responsible treatment decisions reduced usage” of opioids.

However, the study does not track illegal use of opioids like heroin or fentanyl, which can replace the use of prescription opioids.

Still, the report says the progress in reducing opioid prescriptions could be a result of recent changes in policy.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued prescribing guidelines in 2016 looking to limit overprescribing of opioids. And hydrocodone, a common opioid, was moved to the more restrictive Schedule II, from Schedule III, in 2014.

Meanwhile, treatment for opioid addiction is increasing. The number of people starting medication-assisted treatment almost doubled from 44,000 to 82,000 per month from 2015 to 2017.