NSC: Over-the-counter pain medications are more effective for acute pain than prescribed painkillers

NSC: Over-the-counter pain medications are more effective for acute pain than prescribed painkillers

New white paper released as hydrocodone is reclassified as a Schedule II drug

​Itasca, IL. Oct. 6, 2014 – Today the National Safety Council released a white paper, Evidence for the efficacy of pain medications, compiling research showing the combination of over-the-counter pain medications ibuprofen and acetaminophen are more effective at treating acute pain than opioid painkillers. As patients find that they are unable to refill their hydrocodone prescription, this paper presents alternatives that should be discussed with their physician.

The release of the white paper coincides with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s reclassification of hydrocodone combination products, such as Vicodin, from Schedule III to Schedule II drugs. The reclassification makes the drugs more difficult for doctors to prescribe, and patients cannot have prescriptions refilled without seeing their doctor.

“There are alternatives to highly-addictive opioids for treating severe pain,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of NSC. “Prescription opioid overdoses resulted in more than 16,900 deaths in 2011. We must change the paradigm of treating pain if we are to curb this national health crisis.”

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for adults ages 25-64, and opioid painkillers are driving the increase in these deaths.1 Over-prescribing and liberal prescribing have contributed to the epidemic. Many people who struggle with painkiller addiction began using opioids with valid prescriptions following an injury or surgery. In the last 20 years, consumption of opioids has increased 600 percent in the U.S.2

In certain circumstances, opioid painkillers are an appropriate treatment option. NSC Medical Advisor Dr. Donald Teater points to research showing short-term opioid painkiller use can be helpful when treating patients recovering from surgery. These medications also can be effective in treating chronic pain associated with terminal cancer because opioids have positive psychotherapeutic effects that help offset depression and anxiety.

A full copy of the white paper can be found at nsc.org/painmedevidence.

About the National Safety Council

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council, nsc.org, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.

Contact: Kathy Lane
NSC Communications Director
(630) 775-2307
[email protected]

1According to Injury Facts 2014
2Paulozzi, L. J., & Baldwin, G. (2012). CDC Grand Rounds: Prescription Drug Overdoses — a U.S. Epidemic. MMWR, 61(1), 10–13.

Browse the NSC Newsroom
Search the NSC Newsroom
Contact the Media Team

NSC Studio

The National Safety Council has a broadcast TV and radio studio at its headquarters, with both HD and SD capabilities. We are happy to accommodate both live and taped interviews and work closely with your station’s tech team. Please direct inquiries to the above telephone number or email address.