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Larissa Doucette

People who frequently abuse opiate painkillers are often at the highest risk of overdosing, and are also likely to obtain the drugs through multiple prescriptions and multiple doctors, a practice known as “doctor shopping,” reports a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study. Published in the most recent edition of JAMA Internal Medicine, the study finds that people who abuse opiate painkillers non-medically 200 times or more per year are just as likely to get the drugs via doctor shopping as they are through friends and family members. They are also four times more likely than the infrequent abuser to buy prescription opiates from a street dealer or other stranger.

Previous research never differentiated between infrequent and frequent abusers when determining common drug sources, the study authors write. This new data underscores the need to launch prevention programs that are targeted based upon the frequency of drug abuse. CDC included a list of recommended actions, including developing programs and policies shown to prevent prescription drug abuse and overdose, “while making sure patients have access to safe, effective pain treatment.” CDC also recommends enhancing and integrating prescription drug monitoring programs.

NARXCHECK® software offers one solution to assist prescribers in making prescribing decisions. NARXCHECK is a software tool that generates risk-based scores reflecting a patient’s controlled substance prescription medication history. Generally, higher scores indicate that the prescriber should take caution and look further at the patient’s medical history before making a prescribing decision. NARXCHECK is a service of the NABP Foundation