States Prescribing Too Many Painkillers; Alabama Tops The List

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Painkillers are being prescribed in high numbers in the United States. Reuters

A new study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the frequency with which pain killers are prescribed varies from state to state, whereas the medical conditions involving pain does not. The study shows that Alabama prescribes 143 pain killers for every 100 people, making it the top most state to prescribe painkillers.

The number of painkillers prescribed in Alabama is about three times the amount prescribed in Hawaii, the state prescribing the least number of painkillers.

One of the problems that the country faces is overdose from prescription drugs and these numbers don't seem to help the situation in anyway. CDC notes that 46 people die on a daily basis in the United States from painkiller overdose. 

The director of CDC, Thomas Frieden, said, "Florida shows that policy and enforcement matter. When you take serious action, you get encouraging results." Florida has tightened their regulations for prescribing painkillers, and it is observed that the death rate in drug related cases dropped by 23 per cent 

Two hundred fifty-nine million prescriptions for opoids, narcotic painkillers, OxyContin, Opana and methadone were written out in 2012, noted CDC. Director of CDC, Thomas Frieden said that this number is enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills. 

The highest prescription rates in the country were found in the Southern states of Tennessee, West Virginia and Alabama and Northeastern states of Maine and New Hampshire. 

CDC reported, " Prescription rates are skewed not because pain conditions vary across states or have risen recent years, but because doctors from different parts of the country apparently disagree about when a prescription is warranted. Additionally, pill mills, or for-profit pain clinics, are another part of the problem, and one of the targets in Florida's decision to tighten prescription regulations."

Recommendations by CDC

  • State governments should tighten regulation, including those for pain clinics.
  • Doctors should be conscious of prescription habits.
  • Doctos should screen for mental health disorders.
  • The doctors should also avoid certain combinations of drugs.
  • They must also prescribe the lowest possible amount.
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