Individuals who work to overcome addiction often speak of being held accountable to their disease and holding themselves accountable for the choices they make in their care and recovery. Physicians need to do the same.
Physicians are increasingly held accountable for prescribing these narcotics, but they need to be held accountable for helping wean the millions of Americans overusing and abusing these products off of them in a healthy and medically supervised way.
According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, Kathleen Frydl writes that Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, has paid over $630 million in fines on a product that earned the company $31 billion in revenue.
Frydl goes on to write, “The company presented the addictive drug in 1995 as being far less addictive than its studies showed and only recently in the face of complete and ongoing regulatory failure of the FDA, the CDC has stepped in to provide new recommendations for the protocols on prescribing narcotic painkillers. While the dire circumstance of the opioid epidemic would seem to dictate more rigorous action…a political establishment under the sway of large corporate donors has yet to summon the will.”
Accountability needs to enter the scene. Millions of Americans are addicted and because of stigma, fear and reluctance, many may not seek professional help.
Our medical community, including our prescribing physicians, needs to be proactive. A large pharmaceutical company touted a panacea over 20 years ago and since then there have been egregious repercussions. Millions of Americans need to be educated that addiction is a chronic brain disease and that they, or their loved ones, may be in over their head.
We must hold our physicians accountable to educating their patients, to communicating and asking the difficult questions and to making care readily accessible to veterans and the thousands of rural-based citizens.
The opioid epidemic is man-made. We started it and we need to stop it.
www.allgov.com U.S. doctors Prescribe Opiate Painkillers at Twice the Rate of any other Country…and 500,000 veterans are Dependent/U.S.: 5% of World Population; 80% of Opioid Consumption, July 2014
www.cdc.gov Prescription Opioid Abuse: CDC’s Primary Care and Public Health Initiative, Human Rights Watch Report
www.huffingtonpost.com Purdue Pharma: Corporate Fraud with a Body Count, May 2016
www.nationalpainreport.com Pain Medication – National Pain Report, Sept. 2015