Has the Opioid Epidemic Affected Your Practice?

September 13, 2017

America is in the throes of an opioid abuse epidemic. Some 142 Americans die every day from a drug overdose, Chris Christie, chairman of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, said in a press briefing this past July.

Drug companies are taking much of the blame for opioid overuse, with several states claiming the pill makers have defrauded consumers. A lawsuit filed by the state of Missouri alleges that "this opioid epidemic is the direct result of a carefully crafted campaign of deception carried out by Defendants." Ohio and Mississippi have filed similar suits, as have two California counties, the cities of Chicago, Illinois, and Dayton, Ohio, three Tennessee district attorneys, and nine New York counties. New Mexico may be the latest to sue, on September 7.

Physicians also have been accused of contributing to opioid abuse, allegedly overprescribing opioids for everything from migraines to post-op hernia repair. The Christie-led commission has called for limitations on prescriptions and better education for clinicians to identify and manage people with substance problems. The latest annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released yesterday, found that while prescription and illicit opioid use did not increase in 2016, preliminary data show that the number of opioid and overdose deaths continues to skyrocket.

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