The Opioid Overdose Crisis

Related Chapters:

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Page last updated June 10, 2020 by Doug McVay, Editor/Senior Policy Analyst.

21. Reasons Why Many in the US Receive Inadequate Treatment for Pain

"Currently, large numbers of Americans receive inadequate pain prevention, assessment, and treatment, in part because of financial incentives that work against the provision of the best, most individualized care; unrealistic patient expectations; and a lack of valid and objective pain assessment measures. Clinicians’ role in chronic pain care is often a matter of guiding, coaching, and assist­ing patients with day-to-day self-management, but many health professionals lack training in how to perform this support role, and there is little reimbursement for their doing so. Primary care is often the first stop for patients with pain, but primary care is organized in ways that rarely allow clinicians time to perform comprehensive patient assessments. Sometimes patients turn to, or are referred to, pain specialists or pain clinics, although both of these are few in number. Unfortunately, patients often are not told, or do not understand, that their journey to find the best combination of treatments for them may be long and full of uncertainty."

Institute of Medicine, "Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research" (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 2011), p. 8.
http://www.nap.edu/openbook.ph...

22. Restrictions On Opioid Prescribing Are Negatively Impacting People With Cancer And Other Serious Illnesses

"A growing number of restrictions on opioid prescribing are already impacting these patient populations."

According to a survey conducted for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Patient Quality of Life Coalition:

Patients answering yes to "Has your doctor indicated his or her treatment options for your pain were limited by laws, guidelines, or your insurance coverage?"
Patients Being Treated For Cancer: 48%
Patients Being Treated For Chronic Pain: 40%
Patients Being Treated For Other Serious Illnesses: 56%

Patients answering yes to "Has your insurance company or pharmacy required you to only have opioid prescriptions from one doctor?"
Patients Being Treated For Cancer: 36%
Patients Being Treated For Chronic Pain: 25%
Patients Being Treated For Other Serious Illnesses: 26%

Patients answering yes to "Has your doctor refused to give you a prescription for an opioid plan medication?"
Patients Being Treated For Cancer: 35%
Patients Being Treated For Chronic Pain: 25%
Patients Being Treated For Other Serious Illnesses: 36%

Patients answering yes to "Has the pharmacist give you only part of your opioid prescription (for example: for 7 days instead of 30 days the prescription was written), and told you to call your doctor for a new prescription if you need more?"
Patients Being Treated For Cancer: 31%
Patients Being Treated For Chronic Pain: 18%
Patients Being Treated For Other Serious Illnesses: 21%

Patients answering yes to "Have you been unable to get your opioid prescription pain medication because the pharmacist or pharmacy sent you home without your prescription because they had to contact your doctor before filling the prescription?"
Patients Being Treated For Cancer: 26%
Patients Being Treated For Chronic Pain: 30%
Patients Being Treated For Other Serious Illnesses: 22%

Patients answering yes to "Has the pharmacist given you only part of your opioid prescription (for example: for 7 days instead of 30 days the prescription had been written), and told you to come back if you need more?"
Patients Being Treated For Cancer: 25%
Patients Being Treated For Chronic Pain: 26%
Patients Being Treated For Other Serious Illnesses: 26%

Patients answering yes to "Has your doctor or pharmacist told you that you have been flagged in their system as a potential opioid abuser?"
Patients Being Treated For Cancer: 21%
Patients Being Treated For Chronic Pain: 14%
Patients Being Treated For Other Serious Illnesses: 11%

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Patient Quality of Life Coalition, and Public Opinion Strategies. Key Findings Summary: Opioid Access Research Project. June 2018.
https://www.acscan.org/release...
https://www.acscan.org/sites/d...

23. Prevalence Of Illegal Use of Prescription Drugs In The US

"In 2016, an estimated 6.2 million Americans aged 12 or older misused psychotherapeutic drugs at least once in the past month, which represent 2.3 percent of the population aged 12 or older (Figures 18 and 19). Of the four categories of prescription drugs that are presented in this report, prescription pain relievers were the most commonly misused by people aged 12 or older. The 6.2 million people aged 12 or older who misused prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past month included 3.3 million who misused prescription pain relievers in that period. Approximately 2.0 million people aged 12 or older misused prescription tranquilizers in the past month. An estimated 1.7 million people aged 12 or older misused prescription stimulants, and 497,000 (0.5 million) misused prescription sedatives in the past month.

"An estimated 389,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 misused psychotherapeutic drugs at least once in the past month, which rounds to the estimate of 0.4 million adolescents shown in Figure 19. Stated another way, about 1 in 60 adolescents (1.6 percent) were current misusers of psychotherapeutic drugs. An estimated 1.6 million young adults aged 18 to 25 were current misusers of psychotherapeutic drugs, which corresponds to 4.6 percent of young adults. There were 4.2 million adults aged 26 or older who were current misusers of psychotherapeutic drugs, or 2.0 percent of adults in this age group."

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2017). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 17-5044, NSDUH Series H-52). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/si...
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/si...

24. Prevalence of Undertreatment of Pain

"Approximately 100 million American adults experience pain from common chronic conditions, and additional millions experience short-term acute pain (Chapter 2). Many people could have better outcomes if they received incrementally better care as part of the treatment of the chronic diseases that are causing their pain. A nationwide health system straining to contain costs will be hard pressed to address the problem, however, unless early savings can be clearly demonstrated through reduced health care utilization and disability and fewer dollars wasted on ineffective treatments. The high prevalence of pain suggests that it is not being adequately treated, and undertreatment generates enormous costs to the system and to the nation’s economy (see Chapter 2)."

Institute of Medicine, "Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research" (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 2011), p. 153.
http://www.nap.edu/openbook.ph...

25. Unrelieved Pain A Serious Health Problem In The US

"It is well-documented that unrelieved pain continues to be a serious public health problem for the general population in the United States.1-8 This issue is particularly salient for children,9-14 the elderly,15-19 people of racial and ethnic subgroups,20-24 people with developmental disabilities,25;26 people in the military or military veterans27-30 as well as for those with diseases such as cancer,31-36 HIV/AIDS,37-40 or sickle-cell disease.41-43 Clinical experience has demonstrated that adequate pain management leads to enhanced functioning and quality of life, while uncontrolled severe pain contributes to disability and despair.4;44"

Pain & Policy Studies Group, "Achieving Balance in State Pain Policy: A Progress Report Card (CY 2013)" (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, July 2014), p. 10.
http://www.painpolicy.wisc.edu...
http://www.painpolicy.wisc.edu...

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