Are retina specialists contributing to the opioid epidemic?
ASRS members prescribe opioids at a lower rate than other prescribers in the United States, according to a presentation by Yoshihiro Yonekawa, MD at the 2020 ASRS Virtual Meeting, but doctors should still be cautious when prescribing these drugs given the high risk of dependency.
In 2018, there were approximately 46,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States.
“Post-procedural opioid prescriptions does play a role in this so the question was for this study, are we as retina surgeons contributing and if so, how are we doing so?
Dr Yonekawa and Cindy Ung, MD undertook an observational, retrospective, cohort study of 1815 retina specialists from the United States in the 2019 ASRS directory and analyzed their prescribing patterns based on the 2013-2016 Medicare Part D Prescriber database.
In 2016, a total of 15,610 prescriptions were written by members. Approximately 66% of members wrote at least 1 opioid prescription; 68% wrote between 1 and 10 opioid prescriptions; 26% wrote between 11 and 50; and 6% wrote more than 50.
Males were more likely to prescribe more opioids as well as those practicing in the South.
Opioid prescriptions written by members decreased by 18% from 2013 to 2016.
“In my practice no one gets anything,” Dr Yonekawa said during his presentation, opting instead to recommend over-the counter pain medications.
Yonekawa Y, et al. Opioid prescribing patterns and trends of American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) members. Presented at: 2020 ASRS Virtual Meeting.