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Arizona’s Misguided War on Opioids: New at Reason

Monday, November 7, 2016 15:17
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A new executive order in Arizona limits most painkiller prescriptions to a seven day supply.

That’s a bad idea, writes Dr. Jeffrey Singer:

Physicians across the state are incensed at the order. They rightly view this as an infringement upon their autonomy, integrity, and judgment as medical professionals, and as interference by an outside party with the doctor-patient relationship. As a surgeon in private practice in Phoenix, I share in that reaction.

In fact, I recently performed an outpatient surgical procedure on a Medicaid patient. When I handed her an opioid prescription in the recovery room for her postoperative pain, I was tempted to tell her to contact the Governor’s office if she is still in pain when she uses it up and needs a refill.

But this new policy is wrong on many other levels beyond the obvious one just mentioned.

Policy makers constantly implore doctors to practice “evidence-based” medicine. But this executive order is not evidence-based. Despite the fact that the Governor cited 401 deaths in Arizona due to opioid addiction last year, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that non-medical use of opioids peaked in 2012 and has since dropped to 2002 levels. And even taking into account the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that heroin use has gone up as opioid prescribing has gone down, total opioid use was still lower in 2014 than 2012.

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