PainRelief.com Interview with:
Kao-Ping Chua, MD, PhD
Susan B. Meister Child Health Evaluation and Research Center
Department of Pediatrics, University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor MI 48109.
PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: U.S. dentists account for approximately 11 million opioid prescriptions each year. Excessive opioid prescriptions from dentists can result in leftover opioids that can be diverted or misused. In part to prevent this, most states enacted policies between 2016 and 2018 that restricted the duration of opioid prescriptions for acute pain, such as dental pain.
The objective of this study was to evaluate whether these state opioid prescribing limits were associated with reductions in the duration of opioid prescriptions from dentists. Using national prescription dispensing data from 2014-2020 and a rigorous quasi-experimental study design, we found that this duration did not change after limit enactment. A likely explanation is that most limits allow up to a 7-day supply of opioids, but the typical duration of dental opioid prescriptions during the study period was about a 3-day supply. For this reason, state limits had little ability to reduce this duration in the first place.