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A study of nearly 90,000 pediatric patients, ages 13 to 21 years, has found that new, persistent opioid use following surgery “may represent a significant pathway to nonmedical opioid use among adolescents.” In fact, compared to a control group of non-drug-using, non-operative…

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Physicians from lower-ranked medical schools prescribe nearly three times as many opioids per year as graduates from top-tier institutions, says a new study by two Princeton University economics professors. Clinical use of prescription opioids has quadrupled since 1999, almost exactly…

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study was published as a working paper for discussion by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the largest economics research organization in the country.

Striking relationship

“Using data on all opioid prescriptions written by physicians from 2006 to 2014, we uncover a striking relationship between opioid prescribing and medical school rank,” wrote the paper’s authors, Janet Currie, PhD, and Molly Schnell, a PhD candidate. “Even within the same specialty and county of practice, physicians who completed their initial training at top medical schools write significantly fewer opioid prescriptions annually than physicians from lower ranked schools.”

It’s unlikely that these differences in prescribing decisions were due to some sort of differences in the patients seen by doctors from higher- and lower-ranked schools. The study points out that the evidence was the same across geographic regions, across specialties, and even within the same hospitals.

“The relationship between medical school rank and propensity to prescribe opioids persists even among specialists who attended different medical schools but practice in the exact same hospital or clinic-where patients can be assumed to be relatively homogenous in their need for opioids,” the study said.

This additional evidence, they said, suggests “a causal effect of education rather than patient selection across physicians or physician selection across medical schools. Altering physician education may therefore be a useful policy tool in fighting the current epidemic.”

Overall, physicians from Harvard wrote fewer than 100 opioid prescriptions a year, compared to physicians from the lowest-ranked schools who wrote 300 a year. But the most striking differences were found among general practitioners, who accounted for nearly half of all opioids prescribed during the study period.

Harvard grad GPs wrote an average of 180 opioid prescriptions a year, while GPs from the lowest-ranked schools averaged 550 prescriptions a year.

Meanwhile at Harvard…

A year ago, the Obama White House asked medical schools “to sign a pledge” to require students to study new guidelines from the CDC for safe opioid prescribing before they graduate. According to a MedPage Today report, “of the nation’s 170-plus medical schools, 61 signed on.”

Harvard Med was one of those that refused to make the “pledge” to implement the CDC guidelines, saying that safe opioid prescribing is already part of the curriculum. But a group of Harvard med students said they weren’t satisfied with their education on opioids. So a group of them organized additional training on better opioid prescribing practices and how to more effectively treat addiction using the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone (trade name Narcan).

MedPage said their efforts took place “amid a surge in deaths from opioid overdoses, which killed an estimated 28,000 people in the United States in 2014. And at least half of those deaths involved a drug prescribed by a doctor.”

Take it to the next step

The 61 schools that accepted the White House’s pledge to implement the CDC guidelines have begun enhancing their opioid training.

The NBER study’s Molly Schnell told MedPage that if the CDC training turns out to be effective, and if her medical education research gets “sufficient attention,” she and others could start to examine medical education and training “on a more granular level.”

“One thing we would love is to start working with medical schools to maybe know what they’ve been teaching and see if we can pinpoint which strategies are most effective,” Schnell said.

Meanwhile, here at Novus we help patients get their lives back from opioid dependence every day. Our development of innovative opioid detox protocols shows we’re on board with improving treatment methodologies. We congratulate those enterprising, proactive Harvard students, and all the med schools, seeking to find better ways to make a difference.

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(Novus writes inspirational stories of people in the news who have overcome addiction.  This is not to infer that these people are connected to Novus Medical Detox Center but simply to provide hope and encouragement to those fighting addiction.) On September 21, 2012, in front of thousands of…

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A recent study at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, has found that most orthopedic surgery patients go home with far more opioid pain pills than they need – some times as many as 80 pills too many. And it’s not uncommon for other types of patients to be overprescribed. So what’s wrong…

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A recent study of the prescribing practices of emergency room physicians clearly shows that the more opioids you prescribe, the more long-term use and abuse will result - especially among the elderly. The study, published in New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed opioid prescriptions among…

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Novus is the best way to get your life back as painlessly as possible.

Call to speak to one of our experienced & caring detox advisors today!

Not too long ago, younger Americans worried about their aging parents or grandparents dipping into the cooking sherry a little too often. Alcohol was the primary dependence problem troubling Americans of all ages. And in fact, serious drinking among the elderly was not all that unusual. Today…

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Are America's physicians responsible for the soaring rate of opioid abuse and overdose deaths across the country? "Not exclusively," says Dr. F. Perry Wilson. "But we can't deny that somewhere in the chain of events that leads to opioid abuse lies a prescription pad." Wilson, a MedPage Today…

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Higher drug spending in the USA than any other country on earth. And not only are drugs more expensive here than anywhere else. Apparently we take more of them. The figures just came in for last year, and they’re staggering. In 2015, US consumers coughed up a record $310 billion for their pills…

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Novus is the best way to get your life back as painlessly as possible.

Call to speak to one of our experienced & caring detox advisors today!

Do you want to protect your memory from being wiped out with no warning? We don’t mean just your bad memories. We mean all your memories – sometimes for a little while, but sometimes forever. Thanks to reporter John Ericson’s excellent article in Medical Daily, we have learned that five of…

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Doctors at a meeting of the American Medical Society (AMA) have called for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices. The new policy supports an effort by the association to help make prescription drugs more affordable. Drug and device makers spend countless…

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