More than half of doctors across America are curtailing opioid prescriptions, and nearly 1 in 10 have stopped prescribing the drugs, according to a new nationwide online survey. But even as physicians retreat from opioids, some seem to have misgivings: More than one-third of the respondents said the reduction in prescribing has hurt patients with chronic pain.

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Effective monitoring systems [PDMPs] will augment clinical judgment, provide evidence of misuse, and facilitate prescription of the most appropriate analgesic for the situation…The Emergency Department is regarded as the nation’s safety net…the last bastion of around-the-clock access to care … Unfortunately, some of the solutions to opioid misuse [limiting ED physicians to 3-day opioid prescriptions] preempts judgments from trained emergency medical providers.

American College of Physicians, Annals of Internal Medicine, 9 April 2013

A study was conducted to estimate the societal costs of prescription opioid abuse, dependence, and misuse in the United States. Costs were grouped into three categories: health care, workplace, and criminal justice.

The results: Total US societal costs of prescription opioid abuse were estimated at $55.7 billion in 2007 (USD in 2009). Workplace costs accounted for $25.6 billion, health care costs accounted for $25.0 billion, and criminal justice costs accounted for $5.1 billion. Workplace costs were driven by lost earnings from premature death ($11.2 billion) and reduced compensation/lost employment ($7.9 billion).

Conclusions: The costs of prescription opioid abuse represent a substantial and growing economic burden for the society. The increasing prevalence of abuse suggests an even greater societal burden in the future.

Pain Medicine, Volume 12, Issue 4, April 2011
Prescription Advisory Systems & Technology

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