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Opioid Prescribing Nearly 40 Times Higher Among U.S. vs. English Dentists
Although patients in the United States and England go to the dentist at similar rates, American dentists wrote 11.4 million prescriptions for opioids in 2016, compared with about 28,000 prescriptions written by their British counterparts, according to a new AHRQ study. Dentists are one of the most frequent prescribers of opioids, even though data suggest that non-opioid pain relievers are similarly effective for oral pain.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, compared prescriptions by dentists in both countries for opioids from outpatient pharmacies and healthcare settings. They found that the proportion of prescriptions written by U.S. dentists was 37 times greater than those written by English dentists. U.S. dentists also prescribed long-acting opioids (e.g., oxycodone, meperidine), while English dentists did not. To reduce opioid prescribing, the authors suggested that U.S. dentists adapt measures like those used in England, including national guidelines for treating dental pain that emphasize a more conservative use of opioids.

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