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Oral medicine looks to opioid alternatives

Meg Hilling
October 10, 2017 08:05 PM

FARMINGTON, N.M. -- When it comes to oral pain, anything from toothaches to wisdom tooth surgery can leave some wishing for relief. Depending on what work is needed, patients have likely walked out with some form of a prescription at one time or another -- anything from over-the-counter medications to opioids.

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With prescription drug abuse on the rise, many in the medical field have started to utilize resources such as prescription drug monitoring programs in order to scout patients who might just be seeking their next fix. But even with resources like that, doctors still struggle at times to decide whether or not prescribe certain medications.

"You are having to judge the person and I don't like the fact that I was always looking and trying to decide if this person is just trying to get drugs from me," said Curt Hayes, an oral surgeon with Coal Creek Oral Surgery.

Hayes did some research and found Exparel, an FDA approved, non-opioid, long-lasting anesthetic. Injected around the tooth before oral work, it provides pain relief for up to 48 hours.

"I have people going back to work after taking all four of their wisdom teeth out the very next day,” he said. “And so those people are able to drive; they're able to make decisions and go along the rest of their life without being hampered by the side effects of the narcotics."

Hayes said Exparel is not covered by insurance, which means an extra $250 to $400 per patient. But Hayes said he is getting requests for it.

"I'd say probably 80 plus percent of my patients are choosing to do the Exparel instead," he said.

Credits

Meg Hilling

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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