Dose or Duration of Rx: Which Has Greater Impact on Opioid Use Disorder?

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Doctors should prescribe for the minimum numbers of days, researchers say
Doctors should prescribe for the minimum numbers of days, researchers say

HealthDay News — The days supplied is far more important than the dosage level or even the type of pain being treated in risk of opioid use disorder following opioid prescription, according to a study published recently in The Journal of Pain.

Bradley Martin, PharmD, PhD, a pharmacist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, and colleagues examined 2006 to 2015 medical records for 1,353,902 patients who were prescribed opioids for the first time.

The overwhelming majority of patients discontinued opioid use, the researchers found. Patients were more likely to continue using the opioids if they were initially prescribed medications for a longer time. 

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"Comparing someone who has a one- or two-day supply of opioids with someone who has a week's supply, the risk of use doubles," Martin said in a university news release. "This is something clinicians can easily modify when they prescribe opioids." He and his team suggested prescribers use "the minimum effective opioid dose and duration to reduce unintended long-term use."

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