(NaturalNews) Big Pharma is proving once again that it values profits more than human lives, as drug manufacturers fight efforts to curb the over prescription of highly addictive and often deadly opioid drugs.
Deaths from prescription opioid drug overdoses are on the increase – the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that from “2001 to 2014 there was a 3.4-fold increase in the total number of deaths.”
The over-prescription of opioid products has made the United States the center of the painkiller abuse epidemic. Americans consume about 81 percent of the global supply of oxycodone products (the active ingredient in OxyContin) and almost 100 percent of hydrocodone (the active ingredient used in brands such as Vicodin). More than 16,000 people die from opioid painkiller overdose every year.
The skyrocketing use of opioids in America is also closely linked to the rising heroin crisis, which reached new heights this year. Prescription opioids, which provide a high that is very similar to heroin, are often a gateway drug. As many as four out of five heroin users get started with opioid painkillers.
But the drug manufacturers seem to be unconcerned about these facts – or, rather, they are ignoring the facts and working against proposed reforms that could save thousands of lives each year and eliminate the misery of addiction for thousands more.
Drug industry lobbyists thwart CDC attempt to issue new prescription guidelines
Concerns regarding the over prescription of opioid painkillers prompted the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to draft new voluntary prescription guidelines which were set to be finalized this month.
Their efforts were thwarted, however, by industry-backed organizations who complained that the reforms might limit patient access to drugs.
These organizations are thinly disguised mouthpieces for the drug manufacturing industry, but they managed to delay the CDC’s January target date for a 30-day period of public comment and possible changes of the guidelines.
Anti-addiction advocates are concerned that the guidelines may be thrown out altogether due to industry pressure.
From the Los Angeles Daily News:
Under the proposed guidelines, doctors would prescribe these drugs only as a last choice for chronic pain, after non-opioid pain relievers, physical therapy and other options. The CDC also wants doctors to prescribe the smallest supply of the drugs possible, usually three days or less. And doctors would only continue prescribing the drugs if patients show significant improvement.
The proposed guidelines would make perfect sense to any sane person, but not to Big Pharma, apparently:
The CDC decision to delay its guidelines followed months of lobbying by physician and patient groups aligned with the pharmaceutical industry, who have almost always had a seat at the table in federal discussions on opioids. As a result, they have had far more influence over federal policy than addiction activists, according to experts.
The United States of Addiction
In December, Stanford University published a report on the over prescription of opioids. The researchers found that, since 1999, sales of prescription opioids have risen more than 300 percent.
The study countered earlier theories that only a small percentage of corrupt doctors were engaged in operating “pill mills” which accounted for the current opioid overdose death epidemic in the U.S.
The new research reveals that a “broad swath of U.S. general practitioners” are involved in over prescribing opioids. It has become mainstream practice to prescribe these drugs, and Big Pharma wants to keep it that way.
And the cost to society is reflected not only in overdose deaths and addiction, but also in increased violent crime rates as people who first became addicted to prescription painkillers transform into full-fledged junkies who will do anything for their next fix of illegal street drugs.
Written by Daniel Barker
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