You would really think that everyone in the healthcare industry was as concerned as most of us are about curbing drug use in the U.S. and helping the people affected by addiction. We’re supposedly fighting this war on drugs, but are we fighting a losing battle? With instances of oxycodone manufacturers knowingly supplying a drug ring with pills, and Florida pill mills popping up, it’s hard to tell who the good guys are anymore.
An NY Times investigation revealed recently that Purdue Pharma was aware that they were supplying Oxycontin to illegal distributors and still continued to do so for a number of years. In Los Angeles, a business posing as a medical clinic was distributing massive amounts of the drug and fraudulently billing them to insurance programs. The oxycontin pills were then sold to known criminal organizations and gangs for distribution on the street.
In Florida, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had to put a two-year suspension on Cardinal Health for turning a blind eye to massive amounts of unaccounted-for shipments of opiates like oxycontin from its own warehouse.
In both of these cases, we have major, big-time players in the healthcare industry not only playing a role in drug distribution but contributing to it. In the meantime, opioid use in the U.S. is at an all-time high and people are dying of drug overdose more than ever.
Drug Use is a Huge Problem in America
The opioid epidemic in America is still on the rise, and 9 times out of 10 these kinds of addictions begin with doctors. People go in for routine procedures, walk out with a script for an opiate, and begin to abuse the drug. Fast forward down a slippery downward spiral that only has a few stops along the way, including jail, debt, and failure, leading all the way to the final stop, death. Some people are lucky enough to receive treatment for their addiction, but way too many addicts still do not get the help they need.
Facts About Opiate Use in the US
- 1.9 million people report having a substance abuse disorder involving prescription pain pills, vs. only 586,000 that have a substance use issue with heroin.
- Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.
- 47,055 lethal drug overdoses occurred in 2014, which is the last recorded year. Of these deaths, 18,893 ODs resulted from prescription pain pills. That’s 40%!
- 4 out of 5 heroin users started their habit with an addiction to prescription painkillers.
- Heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled from 2000 to 2013.
- In 2012, 259 million scripts were written for opioids. This would be enough to give each American their own bottle of pills.
With facts like these, it’s clear that something needs to be done about opiate use. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to be in the business for the money, and turning a blind eye to who they may be selling drugs to, and consequently who they are killing off. This fight may mean nothing to them, but to the families and loved ones affected by drug use, a change would mean the world.