| ATLANTA, July 1
ATLANTA, July 1 Wide state-by-state variations
in how often U.S. doctors prescribe opioid pain killers
underline the need for tighter regulations for "pain clinics"
that dispense the potentially deadly drugs, particularly in
Southern states, a federal agency said on Tuesday.
The United States has the highest per-capita consumption of
opiate pain killers in the world, twice as high as number two
ranked Canada, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
The CDC said Southern U.S. states, particularly Alabama,
Tennessee and West Virginia, had far greater rates of pain
killer prescriptions than other parts of the country, and
recommended states develop databases to track pain killer
prescriptions and consider tougher regulations on pain clinics.
Alabama leads the nation for prescriptions of opiate pain
killers, with 142.9 prescriptions per 100 people, compared to 52
in Hawaii, which had the lowest rate in the nation, the CDC
"Nearly 22 times as many prescriptions were written for
oxymorphone in Tennessee as were written in Minnesota," the
agency said. "For states that prescribe well above the national
rate, the need for a change in prescribing practices is urgent."
Each day in the United States, 46 people die from overdosing
on prescription pain killers, according to the CDC. To ease the
risks, the study recommended states consider new laws and
regulation "relating to pain clinics to reduce prescribing
practices that are risky to patients."
"Prescription drug overdose is epidemic in the United
States," CDC director Tom Frieden said in a statement. "All too
often, and in far too many communities, the treatment is
becoming the problem."
The CDC lauded Florida's efforts to reduce excessive pain
killer prescription abuse after a 28 percent jump in overdose
rates, saying tougher regulations there led to a 23 percent drop
in prescription drug overdose rates from 2010 to 2012, it said.
Florida, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration,
launched "Operation Pill Nation" in 2010 expanding regulations
on pain clinics and later conducted statewide raids, that led to
arrests, seizing of assets and closing of clinics, the CDC said.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Diane Craft)