It's estimated that three of every four new heroin users started with prescription painkillers, and the number of painkillers prescribed in 2017 dropped by a little more than ten percent.
Prescriptions for opioid painkillers fell 10 percent previous year, and new monthly prescriptions for the drugs fell by 7.8 percent, according to the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, which studies prescription drug use and spending, The New York Times reported.
In March of 2016, MA imposed new restrictions on prescribing opioids in an effort to help curb the epidemic.
Over time, that decline may translate to a drop in overdose deaths, since prescription or illicit opioids were involved in 66% of all lethal overdoses in 2016, according to CDC data.
"We're at a really critical moment in the country when everybody's paying attention to this issue", Michael Kleinrock, the institute's research director, told The Chicago Tribune.
Health data firm IQVIA's Institute for Human Data Science released a report Thursday showing an 8.9 percent average drop nationwide in the number of prescriptions for opioids filled by retail and mail-order pharmacies. "People really don't want them if they can avoid them".
Florida, among leading states in opioid prescriptions with more than 12 million issued annually, also was among states with the smallest decline in prescriptions - 10.8 percent. Prescriptions for high-dose opioids were filled even less frequently, with a 16.1% decline.
For example, there are new insurance company policies and state laws that limit opioid prescribing.
Despite those measures, deaths from drug overdoses have continued to increase in the United States and emergency rooms saw a big jump in overdoses from opioids a year ago, according to government data. "That showed us there's an opportunity to prescribe a certain select group of patients zero opioids, and they may be able to take care of their pain with acetaminophen [Tylenol] or NSAIDs alone".
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