Los Angeles Times

Why opioids hit white areas harder: Doctors there prescribe more readily, study finds

Across California, a blessing has become a curse for patients who dwell in overwhelmingly white communities: their ready access to opioid pain relievers.

A new study of prescribing practices across all of California's 1,760 ZIP codes helps explain why opiates, some of medicine's most addictive drugs, have wreaked more havoc on white communities than on communities of color.

The answer, at least in part, appears to lie in unconscious physician biases about race, ethnicity and pain that more typically leave minority patients underserved and undermedicated, authors of the new study said.

The resulting disparity in care may have briefly shielded minority communities from harm, said study leader Joseph Friedman, a medical student at UCLA. But for far longer and in many more instances, he said, "systematic racism within the

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