With opioid overdoses in the US soaring, the pharmaceutical industry has been pushing to make it more difficult for doctors to prescribe these dangerous opioids without a prescription.
That includes giving doctors less than one dose of a generic opioid drug, and making it illegal to prescribe a generic drug with the same active ingredient.
These drugs, including fentanyl, are highly addictive and can cause addiction.
But a new study published in the journal BMJ reveals that despite the FDA’s attempts to reduce prescription drug overdose deaths, the drugs remain on the market despite a lack of a clinical benefit.
“We found that despite a lot of attempts to improve drug availability, the opioid prescribing practices are still on the rise,” study co-author Mark J. Rafferty, a professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco, told Business Insider.
“The problem is that the people prescribing these opioids are not getting the drug they need.
So the pharmaceutical companies are getting the money and not getting any benefit from the drugs.””
In many cases, the prescriptions are for the same drugs over and over again,” Rafferly continued.
“It’s very common for doctors prescribing these medications to do it several times.”
In a study that was part of the BMJ’s Pain and Function survey, researchers looked at opioid prescribing patterns in the United States and around the world.
They surveyed more than 2,400 physicians from around the country and found that prescriptions for opioids were on the increase in some states, but not in others.
In many states, doctors are not prescribing opioids for the drugs they are supposed to, such as morphine or codeine.
Instead, they are prescribing them for pain relief or other non-medical uses, such like sleep medications.
This is not a surprise, Raffer.
“Most physicians will not prescribe opioids for medical purposes because of the risk of overdose,” he said.
“Doctors will prescribe opioids if they are prescribed for pain, or if there is some indication that it may be useful.”
But not all doctors are prescribing opioids the same way.
The researchers found that in some countries, the drug prescriptions were for the opioids that the doctor was supposed to prescribe.
In other cases, doctors were prescribing opioids to treat pain that they were not supposed to.
“The reason why some states have a lot more opioid prescriptions is because many doctors prescribe these opioids without any indication that the drugs will be helpful for the patient,” Raff told Business Update.
“And there is an incentive for physicians to prescribe them to patients who are in pain, and this is something that is not true in most of the world.”
“The question that remains is: what is the real benefit that opioids provide for patients?
And I think there is one benefit that is very important for many patients, but is also very underappreciated by physicians,” Rafi said.