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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Diverting Prescription Medication Narcotics

It does not take much of a prescription narcotic to have overused the drug, even those receiving prescriptions for acute pain like a broken bone or dental procedure. A new study suggests that for those individuals there is a high potential for diverting their drugs, selling, sharing, or trading. The study conducted dealt with 192 young adults whereby they found that:
  • 58 percent followed their doctor’s instructions for using their medication
  • 27 percent underused their medication
  • 16 percent overused it

They also determined that 27 percent of all those studied diverted their medication. 63 percent of the individuals overusing their medication diverted some; the reports states that compared to individuals using their medication as prescribed, they were almost five times as likely to share, sell or trade their medication. Over users were eight times as likely as under users to divert their medication, the researchers report in the journal Pain Medicine.

“We are concerned that these individuals might have had enough medication from the prescription to both overuse it and divert it,” says study lead author Amelia M. Arria, PhD, Director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health in College Park. “The research underscores the importance of ‘judicious dosing’ for managing acute pain conditions similar to what has been advised for chronic pain management.”

One might think that people who under use their medication would be more likely to divert their drugs; however, Dr. Arria and her colleagues determined that that simply was not the case and was actually the opposite. "We found instead that under users were the least likely to divert medication, perhaps because they might be more risk averse,” said Arria. “We need an easy tool that doctors can use when they are prescribing opioid analgesics, which includes a few questions and talking points about medication diversion.”

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