Doctors, dentists in Nebraska turn to different meds as alternatives to opioids

Doctors in Nebraska are adjusting their prescribing practices for acute and chronic pain as the state's opioid-related death rate continues to rise. One Nebraska dentist is turning to non-opioid analgesics to manage patients' pain, while others hope changing medical attitudes and new resources will help reverse the trend.

Doctors in Nebraska are adjusting their prescribing practices for acute and chronic pain as the state's opioid-related death rate continues to rise. One Nebraska dentist is turning to non-opioid analgesics to manage patients' pain, while others hope changing medical attitudes and new resources will help reverse the trend. Nebraska has expanded its prescription drug monitoring program and also worked with the Nebraska Medical Association on a new pain management guide for medical practitioners to help them prescribe opioids in appropriate volumes and to suggest alternatives when possible. John Massey, MD, a Lincoln-based pain specialist who helped develop the guide, said more patients have started expressing concern about being prescribed these drugs and more are willing to try alternative treatments. Yet cost and access to treatment remain a problem in Nebraska, he said. Many patients west of the state's major cities have less access to specialized pain treatment, he said, and few insurers cover some alternatives to opioids for chronic pain. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson and other state attorneys general have urged insurance industry leaders to provide better coverage for opioid alternatives, arguing that providers and patients may otherwise fall back on what they can get through insurance.