By MATT GOLDBERG and CHRISTIAN HARRISAssociated PressThe amount of oxycontin that is prescribed in the U.S. is up more than 5,000 percent in the past five years and doctors are increasingly seeing patients with chronic pain, a condition that has driven up prescription numbers.
The increase in prescriptions comes after lawmakers and some doctors said in recent months that more patients are turning to opioids to help manage chronic pain and anxiety.
They said that people should have access to opioid medication and not be turned off by the side effects.
The new prescription data, released Monday, came from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which monitors and collects data on prescription rates.
The data is not public but includes data from states that track the numbers.
More:Opioid prescriptions have skyrocketed, climbing from less than 100 million in 2008 to about 2.2 billion in 2018, according to the report.
The number of prescriptions from a single opioid drug rose from 1.3 million in 2007 to 2.1 million in 2018.
The drug has also been linked to increased rates of overdose and death, and the number of Americans who say they take opioids to manage chronic pains has more than doubled in the last five years, to 7.5 million, the report found.
The rise in opioid prescriptions is a reflection of the fact that patients who are getting high doses are also getting high pain levels, said Dr. Robert Lustig, the lead author of the report and professor of medicine at Columbia University.
That’s true for all opioids, not just oxycodones, he said.
For example, OxyContin, which is used for pain management and for relieving chronic conditions, has been blamed for a significant rise in prescription rates for chronic pain.
The drug, which has a powerful opioid antagonist called oxycodysulfamethoxazole, was first approved in 2002 and is used by millions of Americans for pain.
The opioid has a half-life of six to eight days, so patients have to take a lot to feel full.
OxyContin is the main prescription opioid used in the United States for pain, and doctors have prescribed it for a long time.
But as the drug’s popularity has surged, it has become a target for opioid overdose deaths and other problems.
Dr. David J. MacIsaac, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said he believes the rise in prescriptions reflects the increasing use of opioids to treat chronic pain in the American population.
He said the drugs are prescribed at a much higher rate than they were 20 years ago.
“I think it’s partly driven by the fact people are realizing they can get opioids on the black market,” MacIsaacs said.
The number of people who have prescriptions from the drug rose more than 4 percent in 2018 from 5.2 million in 2017, according a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
That was nearly double the increase in 2018 that was reported in the ODB report.
Robert R. Calhoun and Thomas J. Fain, senior scientists at the National Institutes of Health, wrote in the report that the number and rate of opioid-related deaths has risen dramatically in recent years, partly because opioid use has risen and because there has been an explosion in the use of prescription opioids.
There has been a rise in the number, and rate, of prescriptions for opioids in the opioid epidemic, they wrote.
The increase is driven in part by an increase in the prescriptions for oxycodies and other opioid analgesics prescribed in 2017.
The report noted that the rise is in part driven by a combination of factors including increased opioid use among older adults and older patients.
And people are also taking more opioids to combat the effects of chronic pain from obesity and diabetes.
The ODB analysis also found that people have begun to take opioids in smaller doses.
The total number of opioid prescriptions in the country has nearly tripled from 690 million in 2004 to 1.7 billion in 2017 and the increase is concentrated among adults ages 65 and older.
It is a trend that experts say could be changing as more people begin to consider alternative therapies and take other steps to manage their chronic pain with prescription opioids, such as a low-dose medication.
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