Weddings rings and pills pouring from a medication bottleIt is quite apparent that prescription drug abuse in America is out of control. A combination of over prescribing practices and a lack of oversight, has led to a prescription opioid epidemic and a subsequent scourge of heroin use. A review of 38 published studies, has found that almost one-fourth of opioids prescribed for chronic pain are misused, HealthDay reports.

Of those treated for chronic pain, “On average, misuse was documented in approximately one out of four or five patients, and addiction

[was found] in approximately one out of 10 or 11 patients,” wrote Kevin Vowles, from the University of New Mexico, and colleagues.

The review found that the average rates of misuse were 21 percent to 29 percent, and the average rates of addiction were 8 percent to 12 percent, according to the article. The researchers defined misuse as using the drugs in unprescribed ways, whereas addiction was defined as the continued use of a drug despite actual or potential harmful effects.

“If it is accurate that approximately one in four patients on opioids display patterns of opioid misuse, but not addiction, then perhaps more efficient targeting of treatment resources would be of benefit,” write the authors.

Obviously, prescription opioids are not going anywhere, anytime soon. This means that the need for developing opioids with reliable abuse-deterrent features is crucial if the problem is going to be controlled.

“The FDA is focused on the development of opioids with abuse-deterrent formulations,” said Dr. Douglas Throckmorton, deputy director of regulatory programs at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

“To combat opioid abuse and misuse, FDA is encouraging manufacturers to develop abuse-deterrent drugs that work correctly when taken as prescribed, but are formulated in such a way that someone cannot easily modify them for the purposes of abuse.”

The findings were published in the journal Pain.