A study published in this week's JAMA suggests a dramatic difference in prescribing practice for whites and non-whites.
Among patients in severe pain, opioids were prescribed to 52 percent of whites, 42 percents of Hispanics and 39 percent of African-Americans.
The use of opioids increased overall from 1993 to 2005, but the differences in use between racial and ethnic groups did not change.
The study data comes from analysis of 374,891 emergency department visits over 13 years.
Another study published in the January 2006 issue of Cancer found that white women with metastatic breast cancer suffer less pain than nonwhites.