MONDAY, Dec. 14, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Americans continue to be plagued by an epidemic of prescription narcotic painkiller abuse, and a new study finds primary care physicians are by far the biggest prescribers of the drugs.

Researchers led by Dr. Jonathan Chen, of Stanford University, looked at data from 2013 Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage claims. They focused on prescriptions for narcotic painkillers containing hydrocodone (drugs such as Vicodin), oxycodone (Oxycontin and Percocet), codeine and others in this class, known as opioids.

In sheer number of prescriptions written, the largest prescribers were primary care physicians. For example, family practice doctors issued 15.3 million prescriptions, while internal medicine physicians (another type of primary care doctor) issued 12.8 million, the researchers found.

The study also found that nurse practitioners wrote 4.1 million prescriptions for narcotic painkillers while physician assistants ordered up 3.1 million.

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2015-12-31T10:58:17+00:00