State Laws Regulating Prescribing of Controlled Substances: Balancing the Public Health Problems of Chronic Pain and Prescription Painkiller Abuse and Overdose



Today, opiate-based prescription painkillers account for significant morbidity and mortality in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription painkiller overdose has reached epidemic proportions over the past decade. This article explores the focus on inadequate treatment of pain in the U.S. and the subsequent rise of prescription painkiller abuse, misuse, and overdoses. Since 2007, states have increasingly used their authority to address inappropriate prescribing. State strategies to address this complex problem have included: establishing and strengthening prescription drug monitoring programs, regulating pain management facilities, and establishing dosage thresholds above which a consult with a pain specialist is required. With chronic pain affecting at least 116 million adults in the United States, it will also be important to evaluate the impact these policies are having on legitimate access to pain care.