Send by email

your name: email to: message:
Username: Email: Password: Confirm Password:
Login with
Confirming registration ...

Edit your profile:

Country: Town: State:
Gender: Birthday:
Email: Web:
How do you describe yourself:
Password: New password: Repite password:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Record drop in opiate prescription in the United States

Por Feco

The US president has threatened to apply the death penalty to drug traffickers and with the federal government joining the more than 400 lawsuits of states and cities against large opiate producers. Federal authorities and half of the country's 50 states have imposed new restrictions on the sale of painkillers. This last issue provides some relief.

In the last few years, the United States has experienced a very intense introspection to try to understand why annual deaths from overdoses have surpassed those of traffic accidents or those of fallen soldiers in more than a decade of war in Vietnam. The great culprit is the proliferation from the nineties of opiate prescriptions as potent analgesics against pain. The enormous addiction of these drugs has trapped millions of people. When they ran out of drugs or the doses seemed insufficient, most began to be punctured with heroin or to use dangerous derivatives, such as fentanyl.

Apart from the scarcity of controls by the authorities, many views point to the actions of doctors and especially pharmacists, who face an avalanche of lawsuits, accused of cheating on the addiction potential of their products. In 2016, the last year with full figures, 63,632 Americans died from overdoses, according to official data. It is 21.5% more than the previous year. 66% died from abuse of opiates obtained with or without a prescription. The ferocity of the epidemic (more than 150 deaths per day) has lowered life expectancy in the US and has cost the US government nearly one trillion dollars since 2001. Scary numbers indeed.

The evolution of medical prescriptions in the last quarter of the century resembles the shape of a mountain. From 1992 to 2011 their issuance grew progressively: from 22 pills per adult per year to 72 pills, according to Iqvia data, which are measured by the equivalent of morphine amount per milligram. As of 2011, when the peak in the number of opiate prescriptions was reached, the figure has been falling progressively, up to 52 pills per adult in 2017.

The report attributes the decline to "changes in clinical use" as a result of regulatory changes that have restricted the issuance of prescriptions since 2012. Last year, not only fewer drugs were prescribed with opiates, but those that were given had a shorter duration and power, thus lowering the risk of addiction. At least, some good news in this matter. It is estimated that the US consumes 30% of all opiates in the world when it accounts for just over 4% of the world's population. Therefore, the main challenge for authorities is to prevent people who stop having drug prescriptions from becoming addicted and preventing overdoses from those who have already switched to heroin or fentanyl.