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Doctors Should Prescribe Fewer Drugs, Report Suggests


A report in the Archives of Internal Medicine urges doctors to be more cautious and conservative when it comes to prescribing drugs. An editorial accompanying the study notes that the problems associated with opioid medications for the treatment of chronic pain are rapidly growing.

The editorial notes that there isn’t good evidence that opioids help patients in the long run, Reuters reports. The editorial writers note that in 2007 alone, there were almost 11,500 opioid-related deaths in the United States. They say that opioid side effects can range from addiction to sleepiness to constipation.

Report author Dr. Gordon Schiff, of the Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, urges that doctors consider nondrug therapy and prevention before prescribing drugs. He recommends putting off nonurgent drug treatment, starting treatment with only one new drug at a time, and being very vigilant about adverse drug effects. He also advises being skeptical about new drugs, and waiting until they have been on the market for a sufficient time before prescribing them.

Dr. Schiff says doctors should not automatically give patients drugs when they ask for them, and should stop treatment with unneeded medications.

3 Responses to this article

  1. Doug / August 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Brinna, thanks for your comments. I think it was Mark Twain who said that if a man’s paycheck depends on him holding a certain belief it will be hard to change his mind. I think we all know who is holding out: our elected officals and the correctional lobbyists who hold their reins. *sigh*

  2. Brinna Nanda / June 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Opiates, bad. We know this. But sometimes they are crucial to pain relief. As Carlos pointed out, overreaching in the area of opiate control did an incredible disservice to patients who were too often left with no means of relieving their agony. But what is more astounding to me is there is a substance available, which enhances the effects of opiates without increasing the severe side effects; and which can lead to the reduction, and even elimination of opiates for pain management. That substance would be cannabis. 100 years ago, and for more than half a century before that, cannabis tincture was widely prescribed to relieve a panoply of pain symptoms; and it was also used as a way of weaning off of opiate addiction. The only problem with cannabis was that, unlike opiates, which are water soluble, cannabis requires a lipid solvent, and thus administration methods were limited. Deferring to ease of administration, rather than patient benefit, physicians gravitated toward the use of opiates. Unfortunate, but understandable. Today, however, there is absolutely no excuse for the continued prohibition of this powerful, beneficial and mostly benign medicine. We need to reschedule cannabis at the Federal level as soon as possible if we want to see effective alternatives to opiate analgesia developed. Please tell me, what is holding this up?

  3. Carlos / June 17, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Doctors should prescribe what the patient needs according to the patient’s condition and protocol for that condition. If the DEA get again in the problem of acting as if they are doctor and telling them how much to prescribe they will do a disservice to the community. In the 80s and 90s many patients died in agony, because the DEA was telling doctors how much of a dose to prescribe patients.

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