How easy is it really to get prescription painkillers from doctors?

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prescription drug interventionWe posed the question about how easy it really is to get prescription painkillers from doctors. Because well, to be totally honest, you would think it would be kind of hard. But a new study has given us the answers we were looking for and it says that it is actually way easier than you could possibly imagine.

Too often, according to the study’s results, doctors prescribe potentially dangerous medications to patients who shouldn’t be getting them and what they prescribe? Well, it is exactly what the patients ask for. The study found that patients requests for certain medications-such as oxycodone, “substantially affected physician prescribing decisions, despite the drawbacks of the requested medications.” The results suggested that even a gentle request from a patient could convince a doctor to prescribe potent, potentially dangerous narcotics, even when they weren’t in the best practice treatment for the patient’s condition.

Excuse me?

Here is the study:

To determine whether patients could influence doctor’s prescribing methods, 192 primary care dcotors from six states viewed videos in which professional actors simulated a visit with a primary care physician. The actors described symptoms such as sciatica, or back and le pain that could be caused by nerve damage.

Half of the patients specifically asked for oxycodone and the other half didn’t. The wording of the patient’s requests went something like this: “My wife/husband had some oxycodone left over from some dental surgery and I took one last night and I mean…it really worked. I was amazed.”

One video depicted a truck driver in a lot of pain. Pain killers are not recommended for people who have occupations operating heavy machinery for a living.

Painkillers such as oxycodone arent recommended for newly presenting cases of sciatica either. Just a little tid bit there.

After viewing the scenarios the doctors were asked how they would manage the case and what medication they would prescribe.

The results? 20% of sciatica patients who requested the oxycodone got it. Of the sciatica patients in the study who didn’t ask for oxycodone only 1% received a prescription for it. And even when doctors didn’t prescribe oxycodone they still prescribed a strong narcotic to patients who had requested oxycodone. The doctors either prescribed oxycodone or something like percocet and that was to 73% of the patients.

The idea that patients’ suggestions can influence doctors to prescribe things against their better judgment is especially troubling due to the recent spike in pain pill abuse and its recent connection to heroin abuse. I mean if a patient comes to you, that you have never seen before with back pain asking specifically for oxycodone, red flags should be going off. Don’t you agree?

All together though what this shows is that the doctors are easily swayed by patients and patients, guess what, are easily swayed by big pharma companies. Pharmaceutical ads are targeted at patients and if they ask for the pill, they most likely will get it.