In a new study it was found that some physicians are prescribing opioids such as OxyContin 55 times as often as others. Most opioid related deaths are common among patients who frequently prescribe opioids to their patients. A lot of opioids may not do good to their health.
"We found that the 20 per cent of family doctors who are frequent prescribers wrote 55 times as many prescriptions as the 20 per cent of family doctors who prescribe opioids the least. This large variation in practice is concerning," says Dr. Irfan Dhalla, a general internist at St. Michael's Hospital and an adjunct scientist at ICES.
The study, published in the March edition of the journal Canadian Family Physician, examined opioid prescribing rates among family physicians in Ontario. Researchers found doctors who frequently prescribe opioids are also more likely to write the patient's final prescription before death.
Deaths related to opioids in Ontario have more than doubled -- from 13.7 deaths per million residents in 1991 to 33.3 deaths per million residents in 2006. Of the 423 deaths that occurred in 2006, oxycodone -- the active ingredient in OxyContin -- was the opioid most frequently associated with an overdose death.
In 2010, the provincial government passed the Narcotics Safety and Awareness Act, which will enable the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to better track opioid prescribing in Ontario.