Intended for healthcare professionals


Opioid prescribing rates in US vary widely between states, CDC reports

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 04 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4424
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

Healthcare providers in Alabama wrote almost three times as many prescriptions for opioid painkillers per person as those in Hawaii, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported.1

The report said that the states with the highest prescription rates of opioid pain relievers tended to be in the South: Alabama had the highest rate of prescriptions per 100 people, at 142.9; Tennessee had 142.8; and West Virginia had 137.6. The states with the lowest rates were California (57.0), New York (59.5), and Hawaii (52.0).

The variation in prescription rates for benzodiazepines was even wider, with a nearly fourfold difference between West Virginia, which had the highest rate (71.9), and Hawaii, which had the lowest (19.3). “Such wide variations are unlikely …

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