KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Amount Of Opioids Prescribed In U.S. Is Falling, But That’s Where The Good News Ends

Scientists say there are still "too many people getting medicine at too high a level and for too long."

The New York Times: Opioid Prescriptions Fall After 2010 Peak, C.D.C. Report Finds
The amount of opioid painkillers prescribed in the United States peaked in 2010, a new federal analysis has found, with prescriptions for higher, more dangerous doses dropping most sharply — by 41 percent — since then. But the analysis, by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also found that the prescribing rate in 2015 remained three times as high as in 1999, when the nation’s problem with opioid addiction was just getting started. (Goodnough, 7/6)

The Associated Press: Opioid Prescribing Is Falling In The US, But Not Everywhere
Overall opioid prescription rates have been falling in recent years, but the powerful drugs have become more plentiful in more than than 1 in 5 U.S. counties, a report released Thursday finds. The amount of opioids prescribed fell 18 percent between 2010 and 2015. But researchers found local differences, with opioid prescribing six times higher in some counties than others. (Stobbe, 7/6)

The Washington Post: Opioid Prescriptions Dropped For The First Time In The Modern Drug Crisis
Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s acting director, expressed tempered optimism about the first national decline in opioid prescriptions that the CDC has reported since the crisis began in the late 1990s. She said the prescription rate is still triple the level it was in 1999 and four times what it is in some European countries. Even at the reduced prescribing rate, she said, enough opioids were ordered in 2015 to keep every American medicated round-the-clock for three weeks. (Bernstein, 7/6)

The Baltimore Sun: CDC Finds Uneven Progress On Reducing Reliance On Addictive Opioids
Fewer opioid painkillers are being prescribed to patients in half of U.S. counties, including most in Maryland, in recent years, but the amount remains three times what it was in 1999, according to new figures released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC and other public health officials have sought to curb prescriptions of these potent, but addictive painkillers because they are seen as a key contributor to the nationwide overdose epidemic. Users become hooked on them and later turn to cheaper and more deadly street drugs such as heroin. (Cohn, 7/6)

Kaiser Health News: Amount Of Opioids Prescribed In U.S. Has Been Falling Since 2010
Ryan Hampton was sitting at his computer at work when he began sweating, feeling sick and unable to concentrate. He went to the bathroom, splashed water on his face and called his friend for help.That was the day he realized he was addicted to opioids. Hampton, now 36 and living in Los Angeles, said the prescription for his pain medication had run out and he didn’t realize he would face withdrawal problems. (Connor, 7/6)

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