Prescriptions for Powerful Painkillers Vary Widely Among States
Death toll can be reduced with better oversight, CDC says, citing success in Florida.
By Dennis Thompson Jr., HealthDay News
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Doctors in some states seem to wield a freer hand issuing prescriptions for powerful narcotic medications, leading to wide variations in narcotic drug use among states, U.S. health officials reported Tuesday.
Physicians in Alabama -- the state with the highest number of narcotic painkiller prescriptions -- issued nearly three times as many of those prescriptions as doctors in Hawaii -- the lowest prescribing state, according to researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The bottom line is we're not seeing consistent, effective, appropriate prescribing of painkillers across the nation, and this is a problem because of the deaths that result," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said at a news conference.
Frieden added that every day 46 people .
Overall, health-care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for powerful painkillers in 2012, based on prescription data gathered from retail pharmacies by a commercial vendor, the CDC reported.
"That's enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills," Frieden said.
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