As Opioid Prescriptions Fall, Alternate Prescriptions for Pain Relief Increase  What are the main findings?

Response: Overall, we found that from 2014 to 2018, there were increases in the use of acetaminophen, gabapentinoids, and antidepressants among adults with pain. Of all the pain medications we studied, prescriptions for gabapentinoids increased the most, with approximately 1 in 5 US adults with pain obtaining gabapentin or pregabalin in 2018. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Although chronic pain remains very common, alternative medications to opioids are available and increasingly prescribed by physicians. A potential positive take-away from our study is therefore that  physicians are appropriately responding to the opioid crisis, initiating opioid prescriptions less in lieu of alternatives. However, it should be stated that this study was cross-sectional and therefore unable to determine if these alternative medications were replacing or supplementing opioid prescriptions. It should also be stated that the most popular non-opioid medication, gabapentinoids, have limited evidence for treating some of the most common pain conditions, including low back pain. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: In light of their growing popularity, future research should investigate the efficacy of gabapentinoids and antidepressants in treating common chronic pain conditions, including arthritic pain, lower back pain, and diabetic neuropathy.


Lauren R. Gorfinkel, Deborah Hasin, Andrew J. Saxon, Melanie Wall, Silvia S. Martins, Magdalena Cerdá, Katherine Keyes, David S. Fink, Salomeh Keyhani, Charles C. Maynard, Mark Olfson,
Trends in Prescriptions for Non-opioid Pain Medications among U.S. Adults with Moderate or Severe Pain, 2014-2018, The Journal of Pain, 2022,

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Last Updated on February 10, 2022 by