California Doctors Among Lowest Opioid Painkiller Prescribers in U.S.

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California has the second lowest prescribing rate for opioid pain relievers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, in the country, according to a CDC report, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports (Plevin, "KPCC News," KPCC, 7/1).

Details of Report

For the report, CDC researchers analyzed information in a commercial database run by IMS Health to determine the potential for improvements to opioid prescribing. CDC also calculated state rates and measures of variation for opioid prescribing (CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 7/1)

Opioid Prescribing in Calif.

Researchers found that physicians in California prescribed the fewest opioid painkillers of any state except Hawaii ("KPCC News," KPCC, 7/1).

Specifically, California doctors in 2012 prescribed:

  • 57 opioid pain relievers per 100 people, compared with an average of 82.5 nationally;
  • 5.8 long-acting opioid pain relievers per 100 people, compared with an average of 10.3 nationally;
  • 3 high-dose opioid pain relievers per 100 people, compared with an average of 4.2 nationally; and
  • 25.4 benzodiazepines per 100 people, compared with an average of 37.6 nationally (Hensley, "Shots," NPR, 7/1).

Karen Miotto, the leader of UCLA's addiction psychiatry service, said that California's prescription drug monitoring program is one of the oldest in the U.S. In the report, CDC said such programs can help to detect areas with prescribing problems.

In addition, Miotto noted that state agencies, medical schools and medical associations in California have supported opioid education and monitoring initiatives ("KPCC News," KPCC, 7/1).

Laura McMichael-Cady
Couldn't this also be due to the availability of medical marijuana?

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