U.S. dentists prescribe opioids far more often than British counterparts

A study published in JAMA Network Open indicates that American dentists prescribe opioid analgesics at a rate 70 times higher than dentists in England. The study found that U.S. dentists wrote 35.4 opioid prescriptions per 1,000 Americans, compared with U.K. dentists writing 0.5 opioid prescriptions per 1,000 British.

A study published in JAMA Network Open indicates that American dentists prescribe opioid analgesics at a rate 70 times higher than dentists in England. The study found that U.S. dentists wrote 35.4 opioid prescriptions per 1,000 Americans, compared with U.K. dentists writing 0.5 opioid prescriptions per 1,000 British. The researchers also say the types of opioids prescribed by dentists in the United States are more likely to be those "with a high potential for abuse, such as oxycodone." Lead study author Katie Suda, PharmD, MS, an associate professor of pharmacy at the University of Illinois, at Chicago, College of Pharmacy, notes: "Dentists are one of the top prescribers of opioids, second only to family physicians. If you look at what prescription medications dentists are prescribing, opioids are the second most frequent, after antibiotics." Dental prescribing rates for opioid analgesics have been on the rise, Suda and her colleagues found, even though research demonstrates that non-opioid analgesics are as effective as opioids in controlling dental pain. To examine opioid prescribing patterns between the two countries, Suda and her colleagues turned to the IQVIA LRx database and the NHS Digital Prescription Cost Analysis. In 2016, U.S. dentists wrote more than 11.4 million opioid prescriptions, compared with 28,082 such prescriptions from British dentists.