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The entertainment industry lost one of its most talented stars recently due to an overdose of the opioid fentanyl. Pop icon Prince was known for his drug-free lifestyle, so it is particularly tragic that he died from as overdose of the potent painkiller. Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic has become a widespread problem that affects more than just celebrities, and a recent study suggests that one way to control the epidemic is to pay closer attention to the doctors prescribing these powerful drugs.
According to researchers, the states that implemented a prescription drug-monitoring program saw a 30 percent reduction in the rate of Schedule II opioid prescriptions, which include Vicodin, fentanyl, and oxycodone. The results are clear, but researchers are not entirely sure why the program has been successful. It is possible that doctors are prescribing fewer opioids simply because the prescription monitoring program has raised awareness about the potential for abuse, making them more cautious in general. Another possibility is that they are being more careful about prescribing opioids because they know they are being observed.
In 2014 alone, opioid drugs claimed 47,000 lives. Compare this number to 32,000 fatal car accident victims. According to the CDC, close to two million people either abused, or were addicted to prescription opioid painkillers in 2013.
Part of the problem may be that primary care physicians are the biggest prescribers of opioid painkillers, not pain management specialists. Researchers from Stanford University report that the sale of prescription opioids rose by 300 percent in 1999. A researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College said that research indicated that the implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program was associated with an overall reduction in prescribing habits of Schedule II opioids, as well as pain medication overall.
To put the issue into perspective, the volume of opioid prescriptions in the United States is enough to medicate every adult for an entire month. Considering the fact that there is a lack of evidence that supports long-term use of opioid painkillers for chronic non-cancer pain, it is likely that prescription drug monitoring programs will urge doctors to consider alternatives to opioid painkillers. In March of this year, in an effort to address the opioid epidemic, the CDC issued guidelines that urge doctors to try other options as a first line of therapy for pain. If an opioid is clearly the best choice, doctors should always prescribe the lowest dose first.
If you have become addicted to an opioid painkiller that your physician has prescribed for you to manage pain, contact the highly qualified Cherry Hill medical product liability lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. We have a proven track record of reaching successful settlements for our clients and will pursue the maximum financial compensation on your behalf. We will not stop fighting until justice has been served. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 856-354-9444 or contact us online.