PainRelief.com Interview with:
Adriane Fugh-Berman MD
Professor, Dept. of Pharmacology and Physiology
Georgetown University Medical Center
PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The first exposure of adolescents and young people to opioids is through dentists, who frequently prescribe opioids after dental procedures. Dentists are the highest prescribers of opioids to patients under 18. We conducted a national survey of dentists and received 269 responses from 30 states and 2 territories.
Four of five dentists knew that that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)-acetaminophen combinations are equally as effective or more effective than opioids, but 43% still regularly prescribed opioids. There was more caution about prescribing opioids to adolescents aged 11 through 18 years, but only half ( 48%) reported they were less likely to prescribe opioids to young adults 19 -25 years (compared to adults over 25). This is concerning because adolescents and young adults under 25 are more likely to develop opioid use disorder than adults over 25.
One-half of those who reported prescribing opioids reported prescribing more opioids than needed, which would result in leftover pills. Leftover pills pose a risk for later misuse.