Opioid Epidemic: Lawmakers Seek Answers from Manufacturers

In a response to the growing opioid epidemic, the Senate will question five of the biggest opioid drug manufactures.  The Senate is looking for reports regarding marketing practices that may have underplayed the seriousness of opioid addiction.  Some of the allegations include misrepresentation about addictiveness of certain drugs.

From CNBC, “Opioid epidemic: Senate committee opens probe of five big painkiller makers:

Excerpt from the Article: “The investigation will explore whether pharmaceutical manufacturers — at the head of the opioids pipeline — have contributed to opioid over-utilization and over-prescription as overdose deaths in the last 15 years have approached nearly 200,000,” said a press release announcing the probe.

 

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Lawsuits Accuse Drug Companies of Pushing Pain Meds.

Five drug companies are under fire for allegedly participating in “aggressive marketing” of prescription opioids. The City of Chicago and two California counties have filed two separate lawsuits blaming the drug companies for aggravating the opioid addiction epidemic in the United States. Among other allegations, the lawsuits claim that patient information groups received millions of dollars from the drug companies and, in return, the information groups played down the risks of the drugs. The City of Chicago claims the drug companies gave the American Pain Foundation $10 million and then the Foundation promotes messages such as, “opioids are rarely addictive when used properly for the management of chronic pain.” Similar lawsuits were successful against the tobacco industry in the 1990’s, leading to heavier restrictions on tobacco products.

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Many Medicare Patients Get Same Narcotics Prescription from Multiple Doctors

A Harvard Medical School study revealed that one in three Medicare patients with narcotic prescriptions received the prescriptions for the same drug from multiple doctors. The doctors of these patients did not know the patients were receiving the prescriptions from other doctors already. It is likely that this trend contributes to the rise in prescription narcotics, as well as to the deaths from patients overdosing unintentionally on these drugs. Another study, published in the British Medical Journal, revealed that 35% of 1.2 million Medicare patients who received prescriptions for opioids received  prescriptions for the same drug from several doctors.

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