Hospitals prescribing fewer opioids to treat pain, CDC data shows

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a decline in hospitals using opioids to treat pain.


Emergency Departments reported an eight-percent drop in prescribing the drug last year.

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According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 100,000 people die from drug overdoses each year, and opioids are connected to a vast majority of them. Police nationwide are trying to gain the upper hand.

“We need to pull everybody together,” Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said. “This is not a situation to try and make bad people good, but rather sick people well.”

In 2010, emergency departments nationwide were prescribing opioids to treat pain for about 21.5 percent of hospital discharges. The new CDC data shows that trending downward dramatically with just eight-percent of emergency room discharges getting opioid prescriptions now.

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Experts say the change can play a key role in limiting the potential risk of people becoming addicted long after their pain has been treated.

Dr. Rahul Gupta leads the White House’s effort to oversee the country’s fight against drug overdoses and addiction. He says there are new tools in place for doctors to help treat people who are addicted.

“The next job for us, and for me particularly as a physician, is to make sure that my colleagues across the country understand that they’re starting to prescribe that,” Dr. Gupta said. “We want to make sure that shelves and pharmacies are stocking, and we want to make sure that manufacturers are really producing it.

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Critics say the Drug Enforcement Administration is putting pressure on medical facilities to limit painkillers from being prescribed.

They question whether that’s the best way to limit the supply.

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