BOSTON (CBS) – Some good news in the fight against the opioid epidemic. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that the number of first-time opioid prescriptions has fallen by half in recent years. But it’s not all good news.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School analyzed more than 86 million patients over five years and found a more than 50 percent drop in the rate of new opioid prescriptions given to patients, which is great news and will help stem the tide of opioid overuse and abuse.

But they also found that some prescribers are still treating patients with doses that are too high or for too long. On the flip side, some patients weren’t offered these drugs at all when they probably needed them to treat their pain.

It’s important to strike a healthy balance and prescribe the smallest dose for the shortest period of time to provide adequate pain relief.

Dr. Mallika Marshall