Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center Cutting Number of Opioid Prescriptions Based on Results of Pilot Study



BUFFALO, N.Y., /PRNewswire/ -- Pain after surgery can be effectively managed with minimal or no opioids, according to research conducted at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and published today in JAMA Network Open. The publication presents the findings of a two-year pilot study at Roswell Park in which in 1,231 patients undergoing gynecologic or abdominal surgery were prescribed fewer opioids at discharge.

(PRNewsfoto/Roswell Park Comprehensive Canc)

During its first year alone, the restrictive protocol eliminated the circulation of 16,374 opioid tablets (5 mg oxycodone equivalent), significantly reducing the volume of opioids that could be misused or diverted. Based on the success of the opioid-sparing approach, the new restrictive protocol will go into effect throughout all Roswell Park surgical services beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

Beginning in June 2017, patients undergoing ambulatory or minimally invasive surgery at Roswell Park were not prescribed opioids at the time of hospital discharge unless they required more than five doses of opioids while in the hospital. Patients undergoing major surgery were given only a three-day supply of prescription opioids at discharge, unless they needed more opioids during the last 24 hours of their hospital stay. All patients were prescribed a pain regimen of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Before undergoing surgery, all patients were educated about the revised protocol and encouraged to contact their clinical team with any questions or concerns.  

Before the restrictive protocol was implemented, the average patient received 44 opioid pills after major open surgery, 38 pills after minimally invasive surgery and 14 pills after minor surgery. The new protocol radically decreased this amount to an average of 12 tablets after major surgery, one tablet after minimally invasive surgery and essentially none after minor or ambulatory surgery — an overall reduction in opioids of 89%.

During the first two weeks of the new protocol, not a single patient complained of pain or requested an opioid prescription refill.

"Our study clearly shows that patients can recover from major surgery just as well with over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen and minimal or no opioids, with no increase in pain or postoperative complications — and without the side effects of opioids," says lead author Emese Zsiros, MD, PhD.


Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer's grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. Learn more at, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or

Contact: Annie Deck-Miller, Roswell Park



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SOURCE Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center


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