Kicking a Dependence on Prescription Drugs Can Be Very Hard

Joanna Starrels, M.D., M.S., comments on the difficulty and danger of quickly stopping the use of prescription drugs, particularly tranquilizers such as Xanax and Ativan. Dr. Starrels is associate professor medicine at Einstein and an attending physician at Montefiore


Good News: Opioid Prescribing Fell. The Bad? Pain Patients Suffer, Doctors Say

Joanna Starrels, M.D., M.S., helped draft the opioid prescription guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention three years ago. Now, she is among the 300 signatories of a letter sent to the federal agency contending the guidelines are harming one group of vulnerable patients: those with severe chronic pain. Dr. Starrels is associate professor medicine at Einstein and an attending physician at Montefiore.


Steep Climb in Benzodiazepine Prescribing By Primary Care Doctors

Joanna Starrels, M.D., M.S., notes that the country’s focus on opioids has hidden the problems related to benzodiazepines, which also have high risk for addiction and overdose. Dr. Starrels is associate professor of medicine at Einstein and an attending physician at Montefiore.


Medicare is Cracking Down on Opioids. Doctors Fear Pain Patients Will Suffer.

Medicare officials are close to limiting doses of the painkillers. Dr. Joanna Starrels explains that the decision to taper opioids is individual and nuanced and should be left to the patient and their well-trained physician. Dr. Starrels is an associate professor medicine at Einstein and an attending physician at Montefiore.


The Washington Post quotes Marcus Bachhuber, M.D., M.S., and Chinazo Cunningham, M.D., M.S., about their new study with Joanna Starrels, M.D., M.S., on the surge in overdose deaths from benzodiazepines. Dr. Bachhuber notes that this growing public health problem has largely flown under the radar. Dr. Bachhuber is assistant professor of medicine at Einstein and attending physician, Montefiore; Dr. Cunningham is professor of medicine and of family and social medicine at Einstein and associate chief of the division of general internal medicine at Einstein and Montefiore.

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U.S. News & World Report (via HealthDay) features new research by Joanna Starrels, M.D., M.S., that found patients on painkillers, such as oxycodone, are frequently not closely monitored by the primary care doctors who prescribed the drugs. The study found that only 24 percent of those patients considered high-risk for drug abuse underwent drug testing and were more likely to get frequent refills than patients without a history of drug abuse. Dr. Starrels says the finding that doctors did not increase precautions for patients at highest risk for opioid misuse should bring attention to an important safety concern and be a call for a standardized approach to monitoring. Dr. Starrels is an assistant professor of medicine.

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