National Study Finds One in Two Americans Tested May Misuse Prescription Medications

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I thought you might be interested in a study released today by Quest Diagnostics that offers new insight into our nation’s prescription and illicit drug epidemic.

The study, “Quest Diagnostics Health Trendsâ„¢: Prescription Drug Misuse in America,” is based on an analysis of about 3.4 million prescription medication monitoring laboratory tests performed by Quest Diagnostics between 2011 and 2016.

Quest is the leading provider of diagnostic information services, providing laboratory testing to about one in three American adults each year. The company analyzes this de-identified data to provide objective insights into critical healthcare issues affecting millions of Americans. I thought the latest data might interest your staff, members and online followers. You can access the full study at

Key findings include:

  • More than half (52%) of test results of patients tested showed evidence of potential misuse in 2016, suggesting a majority of patients took their prescribed drugs in ways that were inconsistent with their physician’s knowledge or instruction.
  • Dangerous drug combination: opioids and benzodiazepines. Among 33,000 specimens tested for opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol, more than 20% were positive for both opioids and benzodiazepines, more than 10% were positive for both alcohol and opioids, and 3% were positive for all three.
  • Heroin and fentanyl also combined. Among all specimens positive for heroin, 19% were also positive for non-prescribed fentanyl. When combined with heroin, fentanyl heightens the risk of drug overdose death.
  • Drug misuse rates were high among most age groups and both genders. However, adolescents (10 — 17 years of age) showed a striking improvement, with the drug misuse rate dropping from 70% to 29% between 2011 and 2016.

Prescription medication misuse infographic 9 6 17USA

Quest is sharing these study findings at the medical conference PAINWeek 2017 in Las Vegas this week as well as with traditional and social media outlets.

Call to Action: We encourage you to consider sharing these findings with others who may take an interest.

Attached is an infographic with the key findings. Additionally, you may go to to access:

  • The full study in PDF form
  • An interactive map of misuse states by state

Also below are suggested Facebook posts and Tweets that link to the study:

Facebook Twitter
National study finds people often combine prescription drugs, like opioids, with other drugs, putting their health at risk. #PainWEEK 2017: @QuestDX  study reveals prescriptions widely, dangerously combined
Examination of 33,000 prescription drug lab results shows widespread misuse. Learn more at @QuestDX provides new insights into the nation’s prescription drug epidemic based on lab data
Did you know half of all American adults tested misuse their prescription medications? Learn more here: Did you know half of all American adults tested misuse their prescription medications? @QuestDX


Supplied by KP P U B L I C   A F F A I R S w.


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