Doctors gave no reason for a third of opioid prescriptions, study finds

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Doctors gave no good reason for prescribing opioids to patients close to a third of the time during the buildup to the opioid overdose epidemic, researchers reported Monday.

A close check of medical records from 2006 to 2015 showed that a physician gave no explanation at all for writing an opioid prescription in 29 percent of the cases, the team at Harvard Medical School and the Rand Corp. found.

The findings help support criticism by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and others that say inappropriate prescribing practices have helped drive the opioid crisis, in which 42,000 people died in 2016 alone.

The CDC has been trying to get doctors to prescribe opioids only when absolutely necessary, and to prescribe as low a dose as possible for the shortest time possible.