Opioid crisis: ‘Drug companies lobbying contributed to demand among doctors’

Friday, December 29, 2017
By Paul Martin

29 Dec, 2017

Culture is contributing to the opioid crisis in the US; drug companies ease supply, and lobbying raised the demand from doctors, while they and patients were misled about the risks, law professor Richard Ausness told RT.

Life expectancy in America has declined for the second year in a row, and figures show that powerful painkillers were affecting it as opioids played a bigger role in overdose deaths last year than any other legal or illegal drug.

According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were over 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the US in 2016. In comparison, 58,220 US soldiers died during the more than decade-long Vietnam War.

RT discussed the opioid crisis in the US with Richard Ausness, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Stites & Harbison Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law, who has written about the failure to prosecute drug companies.

“The federal government is going to have to take the lead in developing the policy to combat opioid addiction. On the other hand, it is going to take a lot of money and a lot of time. And I am not sure that we are there yet. I think a lot of work needs to be done developing a policy before we’ll see much of the improvement,” Ausness said.

Ausness pointed out that the culture is the contributing factor: “in many of the areas the country that has the worst problem with opioids – there is a tendency to use drugs, either legal drugs or illegal drugs, or to abuse them.”

“I think, that doctors tend to prescribe opioids when there is private health insurance perhaps more so than in Europe where there are government programs,” he noted.

According to Ausness, the part of the problem is that the drug companies developed lobby at the medical profession.

“And [they] developed a demand among doctors to prescribe these drugs for chronic pain which they weren’t really designed to be used for. That perhaps has as much to do with that as direct to consumer advertising,” he continued.

In his view, drug companies are largely responsible for the crisis.

The Rest…HERE

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