The gain in pain is plainly in the main.
Abuse of opiate-based prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine peaked around 2010-2011 and now may be on the decline in the United States, according to an analysis of databases designed to track illicit use of the drugs.
New laws, programs and policies, such as prescription tracking systems and the reformulation of oxycodone to make it harder to abuse, may be combining to reverse the once-growing trend, researchers said.
"I think we're at an inflection point and we're starting to turn this steamship around," said Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins’ Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, who was not involved in the research.
The new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at data collected between 2002 and 2013 from substance-abuse treatment centers, poison centers, college students and drug-diversion investigators.
There were "large increases in the rates of opioid diversion and abuse from 2002 to 2010, but then the rates flattened or decreased from 2011 through 2013. The rate of opioid-related deaths rose and fell in a similar pattern," write the study authors, led by Dr. Richard Dart of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center at the Denver Health and Hospital Authority in Colorado.The full NEJM article can be found here.
Now we need to continue to move (and act) beyond the rhetoric and pursue additional solutions. And at the top of the list is the foundation of the Hamburg Manifesto -- prescriber education.