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Many Primary Care Physicians Misinformed About Opioids

Nearly half questioned were misinformed about potential for abuse

MONDAY, June 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians who are ill-informed about opioids may be unintentionally contributing to their misuse, according to new research published online June 22 in the Clinical Journal of Pain.

The researchers conducted a survey between February and May 2014. All of the doctors surveyed believed that prescription drug abuse was at least a minor problem in their communities. Overall, measures that could potentially reduce opioid abuse were widely supported.

Two-thirds of the 1,000 primary care physicians surveyed in the United States correctly reported that the most common route of abuse was swallowing pills. Fewer than half (46 percent) of the physicians mistakenly believed that abuse-deterrent pills -- those that can't be crushed and snorted or injected -- are less addictive than standard opioids. Twenty-five percent reported being not at all or only slightly concerned about potential for opioid diversion from the licit to the illicit market.

"Physicians and patients may mistakenly view these medicines as safe in one form and dangerous in another, but these products are addictive no matter how you take them," study leader G. Caleb Alexander, M.D., of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said in a Hopkins news release. "If doctors and patients fail to understand this, they may believe opioids are safer than is actually the case and prescribe them more readily than they should."

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