The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recently released a report that highlights the severity of the opioid crisis in the U.S. and globally. The report details an alarming increase in opioid-related deaths in 25 OECD countries that track this data. Overall, opioid-related deaths rose 20% between 2011 and 2016, and the U.S. saw a significant uptick.
The report called out overprescribing of opioids to manage chronic and acute pain as a root cause for this spike. According to the OECD, the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed in OECD countries increased 110% in one decade, although that has slowed in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted a similar decline but cautioned that today’s prescription rates still remain high compared with 1999. In 2016, the CDC released guidelines for primary-care physicians for prescribing opioids, and in its report the OECD recommended that “doctors should improve their prescribing practices.”