- Posted by Austin Swim
- On September 1, 2015
- 0 Comments
As the opioid epidemic expands, more and more Americans become addicted to painkillers. This means that unfortunately in many cases the solution to one health problem could easily become the onset of another. This could mean that doctors will begin seeking out more alternative treatments to opioids in order to help prevent addiction in their patients. One recent survey of two Florida laws indicates that legislation could be the answer to reducing painkiller prescription rates, therefore reducing painkiller addiction rates.
The study of these two Florida laws was carried out by researchers at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Florida laws in question were enacted to help combat prescription drug addiction and misuse in the state. One law was a measure to create a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a database that would track individual prescriptions, alongside patients’ names, dates, and amounts prescribed. This would help doctors better track excess prescriptions, which are often associated with prescription drug addiction and misuse. The other law addressed “pill mills,” which are loosely regulated pain clinics that prescribe a disproportionately large number of opioids. The law requires each clinic to register with the state of Florida and be headed by a physician.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins found that within the first 12 months following the enactment of these two laws, opioid prescription rates saw a small but significant decrease. The number of opioid prescriptions fell slightly–by 1.4 percent–while the volume of opioid prescriptions fell by 2.5 percent. Though it might sound small, a 2.5 percent decrease in opioid prescription volume makes for about 750,000 fewer pills prescribed every month. The amount per prescription also decreased, by 5.6 percent.
These two Florida laws come into effect following a major increase in prescription drug overdose deaths in the state–a trend unfortunately seen throughout the country as a whole, as well. In Florida alone, overdose death rates increased by about 80 percent between 2003 and 2009. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 44 Americans die from a prescription drug overdose every day.
This study could have a significant impact on how we go about addressing the widespread opioid epidemic. Lainie Rutkow, JD, MPH, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, states, “These findings support the notion that there are policy solutions to the prescription drug epidemic.”