AirTalk for July 3, 2013

Are doctors over-prescribing painkillers?

Painkiller

arbyreed/Flickr Creative Commons

Are doctors prescribing painkiller drugs too quickly?

About 18 women die from prescription painkiller overdoses in the United States each day. In a recent study released by the Center for Disease Control, prescription painkiller overdoses by women have increased by 400 percent  in the last decade. The study showed that women are more likely to receive prescriptions drugs than men and to be given higher doses. Researchers found that painkillers are the leading cause of drug abuse, killing more than four times as many women than cocaine and heroin combined.  Some health officials say part of the problem is that doctors are too quick to prescribe narcotics for pain too often and for too long.

Furthermore, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, criticized  doctors on Tuesday for over-prescribing narcotics for pain treatment. Frieden said the use of narcotics should be limited to treating only severe pain. 

Why are female fatalities from prescription drugs increasing? Should doctors be relying strong drugs or looking at other options? How much responsibility should the patient have in deciding what medications to take?

Guests:

Dr. Andrew Kolodny, MD, Chair of Psychiatry at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY and President of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing

Myra Christopher, Chair for Pain and Palliative Care at the Center for Practical Bioethics and a principal at The Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy (PAINS)


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