There have been a lot of conversations surrounding this subject in the last couple years. It’s no secret the United States needs to regulate the way prescription opioids are dispensed and continue to educate doctors about the dangers involved in over prescribing. SACK Coalition is fortunate to have Dr. Brent Thompson, First Light Pharmacy Director, as an active member of our coalition and is passionate about this subject.
Did you know that the population of the United States makes up just 5% of the world’s population but consumers over 80% of the opioids produced? In many countries the use of opioid prescriptions is limited to acute hospitalization and trauma (burns, surgery, childbirth and end of life care).
Big Pharma began pushing opioids in the late 90’s when new opioids became available in extended-release formulas – like OxyContin. Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, promoted it as a miracle drug for chronic pain. One of their marketing videos has a doctor quoted as saying, “they don’t wear out; they go on working; they do not have serious medical side effects and they should be used much more than they are for patients in pain.” Reduce pain? Great! Sales of Oxy and other opioid prescriptions skyrocketed! Dr. Thompson tells the story of being on a pain committee when he first came to First Light; they were encouraging physicians to prescribe these opioids. I’ve heard him say more than once, “I’m sorry”. By 2010, overdose deaths due to prescription opioid pain relievers more than tripled in 20 years.
Opioid dependence and overdose death across the US remain at a crisis level. In the Midwest we’ve been mostly shielded by the real epidemic. Places like Seattle, central Ohio, and the southwestern US have seen some of the worst outbreaks.
What happens now? Education. Prevention. Awareness. There continues to be more research about the risks of long term opioid treatment, ways to maximize the use of non-medical strategies for pain management, non-opioid medications, and screening tools to assess for potential medication abuse and create adequate resources to help people who develop dependence.
SACK will be hosting a showing of “Chasing the Dragon” on May 25th, 6:30 p.m. at the Paradise Theater (FREE POPCORN!) with a Q & A to follow with a panel of experts. Even if you’ve seen the movie, invite a friend or neighbor. The more we can educate people about the danger of opioids in their medicine cabinet or the addictive nature of this drug the further ahead we will be!
Click here to view the flyer for “Chasing the Dragon”