Skip 
Navigation Link
Health Policy & Advocacy
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
Herbal and Dietary Supplements Are Commonly Mislabeled3 Million Americans Say They Carry Handguns Every DayMany Dermatology Guideline Authors Get Industry PaymentsDoctors Urged to Speak With Patients About FirearmsStates That Make You Wait to Buy Guns Have Fewer Deaths: StudyHomicides Devastate Black Communities, But Prevention Gets Little FundingBetter Patient Communication Needed After Urgent CareQuality Issues for Both Paper-, Electronic-Based Health RecordsRide-Sharing Services Could Cut Alcohol-Related CrashesLow-Cost Services a Major Player in Unnecessary Health SpendingMedical License Questions Sway Doctors' Mental Health Help'Heat-Not-Burn Cigarettes' Aiming for U.S. MarketInjured Patients Want More Info on Safety Improvement EffortsFDA Approves Test to Screen Donated Blood for Zika21 Percent of Americans Report Experiencing a Medical ErrorUber Can Help Cut Car Crashes, But Not EverywhereThe Unexpected Faces of the UninsuredHealth Tip: Giving BloodCommunication Program Doesn't Raise Hospital Liability CostsSame Pregnancy Meds Can Cost $200 -- or $11,000Americans More Open About Mental Health Issues, But Stigma Lingers1 in 5 Have Been Hit By a Medical Error, Survey ShowsOpioid Manufacturers to Provide Doctor TrainingPatients' E-Records Still Not Widely AvailableU.S. Gun Injuries Nearing $3 Billion in ER, Hospital CostsState Laws Can Promote Hepatitis C Virus ScreeningTeens Mixed Up With the Law May Fall Through Medicaid CracksState Policies Can Reduce Alcohol-Related MurdersBlame Common in Patient Safety Incident ReportsCDC Launches Opioid Campaign in Hard-Hit StatesU.S. Pays a Hefty Price for ObesityBlacks, Elderly Missing From U.S. Cancer Clinical TrialsFood Stamp Benefits May Lower Health Care CostsFrequent Blood Donations Safe for Some, But Not AllDrone Sets New Record for Transporting Blood SamplesGun Injuries Add Millions of Dollars to Hospital CostsACP Does Not Support Legalization of Assisted SuicideAAP: Few Doctors Provide Firearm Injury Prevention Info in ER9 of 10 Docs Unprepared to Prescribe MarijuanaThis Mistake Can Cost Athletes' Lives in Cardiac ArrestDrills Assess ER Response to Communicable DiseaseDo Nursing Home Workers Change Gloves Often Enough?Minorities Exposed to Dirtier Air, U.S. Study FindsPhysicians Tweeting About Drugs May Have Conflict of Interest'Science Spin' Found Prevalent in Biomedical LiteratureHealth Tip: Overcoming the Obesity EpidemicU.S. Military Surgeons Helped More Than 6,000 Afghan AdultsWhat You Can Do to Help Fight the Opioid EpidemicAre Physicians Obligated to Help on Planes?Median Cost of Cancer Drug Development $648.0 Million
Questions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Health Insurance
Healthcare

Checking Patient's Drug History May Help Curb Opioid Abuse

HealthDay News
by -- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
Updated: May 23rd 2017

new article illustration

TUESDAY, May 23, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors can help stem the U.S. opioid epidemic by checking their patients' drug history before prescribing powerful painkillers, a new study suggests.

Addicts frequently "doctor-shop" in an attempt to obtain opioids such as OxyContin (oxycodone), Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen) and Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen).

But, nearly every state now has a database tracking opioid prescriptions, Cornell University researchers said. Doctors can use these databases to check their patients' past prescriptions and identify likely drug abusers.

"The main issue is getting providers to change their prescribing behavior. The majority of opioids that people abuse start in the medical system as a legitimate prescription," said study co-author Colleen Carey. She's an assistant professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell's College of Human Ecology in Ithaca, N.Y.

However, prescription databases only help combat drug abuse when doctors are required by law to check them before writing prescriptions, Carey and her colleagues noted in a university news release.

The researchers found that states that enforced a "must access" policy for prescription drug databases saw a drop in the number of Medicare recipients who got more than a seven-months' supply of medication in just six months. Also, fewer people filled a prescription before their previous supply ran out.

According to the study, the number of Medicare opioid users who received prescriptions from five or more doctors dropped by 8 percent in those states. And the number of people who got opioids from five or more pharmacies fell by more than 15 percent.

The effects of prescription database regulations were most notable in states with the strictest laws, including New York, the researchers said.

New York requires doctors to check the opioid history of "every patient, every time," the researchers said. But even less stringent state laws reduced doctor-shopping, the study found.

The study looked only at Medicare recipients, but the researchers said their findings apply to the general population. They noted, however, that patients who abuse opioids could travel to a state with fewer regulations to more easily obtain their drugs.

The findings will be published in a future issue of American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse provides more information on opioids.