Misinformation is common among many primary care physicians regarding the potential for abuse and misuse of opioids by patients, particularly regarding common routes of abuse, based on results from a recent survey. The results were published in the Clinical Journal of Pain.

G. Caleb Alexander, MD, MS, from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, and colleagues conducted a nationally representative postal mail survey of 1,000 practicing internists, family physicians, and general practitioners in the United States from February to May 2014. Of the 58% who responded, all reported that they believed prescription drug abuse to be a problem in their community and over half said that it was a “big problem.” Only 66% of the respondents correctly stated that swallowing pills whole was the most common route of abuse and almost half incorrectly reported that abuse-deterrent formulations were less addictive than their counterparts. Just 25% stated that they were “not at all” or only “slightly concerned” about the potential for the diversion of opioids from the licit to the illicit market.

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A total of 98% of the physicians supported the use of patient contracts, 90% for urine testing, and 88% for requiring checking a centralized database prior to prescribing opioids to a patient, 33% also believed that efforts to reduce prescription opioid abuse had a moderate or large effect on preventing clinically appropriate access to treatment. The authors hypothesize that although these doctors supported measures to prevent opioid misuse and abuse, some may see these efforts to be time-consuming or already recommended by some guidelines but underused.

For more information visit JHSPH.edu.