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US dentists prescribe opioids more often than UK dentists

US dentists prescribe opioids 70 times more often than UK dentists, a recent study reveals. Also, US dentists prescribe the types of opioids that are more likely to have a high probability of misuse, including oxycodone.

The study was conducted by researchers from the UIC College of Pharmacy in Chicago and published in JAMA Network Open. Lead researcher, Katie Suda, said that US dentists were among the main opioid prescribers, ranked second behind family physicians. She also noted that opioids were the second most often prescribed drugs after antibiotics. Suda added that 10% of the opioid prescriptions written by US dentists were for high-potency opioids, while UK dentists did not write prescriptions for these.

Suda and her research team analysed two databases during the study. For the US dentists, they collected data from the IQVIA LRx, which contains information for 85% of prescriptions issued to outpatients and includes prescriptions written for patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurers. For UK dentists, they collected data from the NHS Digital Prescription Cost Analysis, which includes information for 84% of the UK population.

US dentists wrote over 11.4 million prescriptions for opioids in 2016, while UK dentists only wrote 28,082 opioid prescriptions during the same period. The numbers showed that US dentists prescribed opioids at a rate of over 70 times higher than UK dentists. US dentists wrote 35.4 prescriptions for opioids for every 1,000 Americans, while UK dentists wrote 0.5 prescriptions for opioids for every 1,000 Brits. Suda said that the researchers were surprised at the size of the difference between US and UK dentists.

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