Key Data Gaps Regarding the Public Health Issues Associated with Opioid Analgesics

  • Teresa D. Schmidt
  • J. David Haddox
  • Alexandra E. Nielsen
  • Wayne Wakeland
  • John Fitzgerald


Most pharmaceutical opioids are used to treat pain, and they have been demonstrated to be effective medications for many. Their abuse and misuse pose significant public health concerns in the USA. Research has provided much insight into the prevalence, scope, and drivers of opioid abuse, but a holistic understanding is limited by a lack of available data regarding key aspects of this public health problem. Twelve data gaps were revealed during the creation of a systems-level computer model of medical use, diversion, nonmedical use, and the adverse outcomes associated with opioid analgesics in the USA. Data specific to these gaps would enhance the validity and real-world applications of systems-level models of this public health problem and would increase understanding of the complex system in which use and abuse occur. This paper provides an overview of these gaps, argues for the importance of closing them, and provides specific recommendations for future data collection efforts.


Opioid Analgesic Drug Enforcement Administration Chronic Nonmalignant Pain Doctor Shopping Prescription Drug Monitoring Program 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Funding for this project was provided by Purdue Pharma L.P. Preliminary work that formed the basis for this manuscript was presented at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence. The authors also appreciate the significant contributions from Howard Chilcoat, Ph.D., Aaron Gilson, Ph.D., Dennis McCarty, Ph.D., and Lynn Webster, M.D., who provided valuable insight into the organization of the manuscript and the relevance of its contents. Additional support was provided from NIDA grant number 5R21DA031361-02.

Conflict of Interest

Wayne Wakeland, Ph.D., Teresa Schmidt, M.A., and Alexandra Nielsen, B.S., were compensated through a research grant to Portland State University funded by Purdue Pharma L.P. John Fitzgerald, Ph.D., is a full-time employee of Purdue Pharma L.P. J. David Haddox, D.D.S., M.D., is a full-time employee of Purdue Pharma L.P. and receives no compensation from Tufts University.


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Copyright information

© National Council for Behavioral Health 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teresa D. Schmidt
    • 1
  • J. David Haddox
    • 2
    • 4
  • Alexandra E. Nielsen
    • 1
  • Wayne Wakeland
    • 1
  • John Fitzgerald
    • 3
  1. 1.Systems Science Graduate ProgramPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Health PolicyPurdue Pharma L.P.StamfordUSA
  3. 3.Purdue Pharma L.P.StamfordUSA
  4. 4.Public Health and Community MedicineTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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