The numbers on record show a total of 26.3 million actual fewer prescriptions and 1.1 billion fewer tablets dispensed, in the 12 months after rescheduling. The only healthcare specialists who increased prescriptions during this period were pain specialists. Surgeons and primary care physicians showed the biggest decrease in allotted prescriptions, at 38.4% and 22.9% less, respectively.

The figures for decreases and increases for tablets dispensed are similar. The only specialty associated with an increase in the number of hydrocodone combination tablets dispensed was pain specialists, at an increase of 8.9%. The lowest decrease, at 2%, was dentists, and the most drastic decrease was among surgeons at 30.8% less tablets.

The researchers note the numerous actions that have been taken to address the opioid epidemic in recent years. They point to the ‘abrupt change’ in dispensing these products as an indication that rescheduling from III to II played a primary role. The findings are conclusive in the realm of lowering the number of prescriptions and tablets dispensed. However, the authors call for further research to assess whether these changes have had “an effect on access for patients, and are associated with the desired goals of reduced abuse, addiction, and overdose.”

For more information visit JAMA.