A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis of painkiller prescriptions occurring nationwide reveals 82.5 prescriptions are written for opioid painkillers for every 100 Americans as of 2012. Alabama doctors are writing 143 prescriptions for every 100 in its population.

In some states every resident adult, on average, was prescribed a painkiller in 2012, and that list includes West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

"This is an epidemic that was largely caused by improper prescribing practices,"  said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

The CDC report states overprescription can bring on multiple adverse health impacts including fatalities due to an overdose.

The study used a commercial database to assess potential for improvement in prescription of painkillers. The rate is higher in the South.

"Factors accounting for the regional variation are unknown. Such wide variations are unlikely to be attributable to underlying differences in the health status of the population. High rates indicate the need to identify prescribing practices that might not appropriately balance pain relief and patient safety," states the report's conclusions.

On a public health level the report recommends that state policy and lawmakers may want to investigate the potential harm related with abuse of prescription drugs and enact new policy that makes prescriptions a more cautious act. In that regard it notes that some states, including Florida and New York, have changed prescription patterns by enacting new policies.

"Florida, for example, enacted pain clinic legislation in 2010 and prohibited dispensing by prescribers in 2011," notes the report. Following the policy change the state saw a 52 percent decline in its oxycodone overdose death rate.

"Guidelines, insurance strategies, and laws are promising interventions that need further evaluation. Patients in all states deserve access to safe and effective evidence-based medical care, and prescribers should carefully consider the balance between risks and benefits in any pharmacotherapy," states the report.

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