Local periodontist joins fight against opioid epidemic

Local periodontist joins fight against opioid epidemic
April 26
08:59 2018

Here in N.C. there were enough opioids prescribed in 2016 for every resident to have more than 70 pills each.

While government officials and law enforcement agencies across the country do what they can to battle the crisis, a local surgeon is looking to inspire other physicians to join the fight by prescribing less opioids.

Dr. Ken Peavy, a periodontist with 25 years of experience in oral health care and specialty services, first saw the uptick in the number of opioid prescriptions in late 2016. According to Dr. Peavy, around that time, for postsurgical pain he was writing about 25 opioid prescriptions a month.

Although dentists only account for a small percentage of all opioid prescriptions Dr. Peavy said he felt he needed to do something. He mentioned only about 30 percent of narcotics prescriptions are taken by the patient, the rest are diverted to other people.

“Diversion is a huge problem because you got them and nobody wants to throw them away. Then you look up and you have 70 to 80 tablets,” Peavy said.

Shortly after attending an annual conference to learn about the impact of the opioid crisis, while speaking with a pharmaceutical representative from Pacira, Dr. Peavy was introduced to a drug called Exparel.

Peavy said the drug was the first innovation in local anesthetics in 50 years.

“Immediately it seemed like using this would decrease the number of prescriptions I was having to write for our patients,” Peavy continued. “…We had about 100 patients fill out a pain survey and score their pain from 1 to 10, they came back and almost everybody was under 3. That’s down from like 8. I was really surprised that it worked that well.”

When used right after surgery, Exparel releases an anesthetic called Marcaine. He said, “when you do a little at a time you don’t really get anesthesia but you get analgesia. I think it’s because of the minuet amount you get in this release system. We do it for tooth extractions, implant surgeries really any kind of surgery.”

Nearly 75 patients have praised Dr. Peavy and Exparel on his channel. Many stated they didn’t experience any pain, swelling, or bleeding after their procedure.

When asked why more dentists or physicians aren’t prescribing Exparel, Dr. Peavy said cost may be a major factor. He said in most cases the regular local anesthetic is included in the fees.

Since discovering Exparel, Dr. Peavy’s opioid prescriptions have dropped from 25 a month to three or four in the last year.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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