The opioid epidemic in America is becoming a huge problem and certain statistics — like the fact Americans consume 99 percent of the world’s hydrocodone (an opioid) — exemplify how severe the issue is.
America only makes up approximately 5 percent of the world’s population, but overall consumes 80 percent of the global opioid supply, reports the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. Seventy percent of fatal prescription drug overdoses come from opioids and there were more than 47,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2014, reports the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The startling fact that U.S. citizens consume approximately 80% of the global opioid supply means that it’s probably time doctors and other medical professionals paid more attention to the dangers that come with prescribing painkillers,” a representative from drugabuse.com told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
When 2,000 people were provided the statement “at the time of prescribing, my doctor thoroughly explained the side effects, dosage, and other concerns related to the painkiller(s)” 56 percent of people said they strongly agreed or agreed. Thirty-three percent felt as if the doctor did not adequately describe the opioids being prescribed, according to a survey conducted by drugabuse.com.
Regardless of a lack of explanation, there were 259 million prescriptions for painkillers written in 2012, which is enough to give every American adult their own bottle.
But the people being prescribed the opioid painkillers aren’t the only ones taking it. “Of the People Who Know an Overdose Victim, 50 percent have taken a prescription painkiller that was not prescribed to them, 67 percent have had a family member or friend offer a prescription painkiller that was not prescribed to them, and 44 percent have given a family member or friend a prescription painkiller,” reports drugabuse.com.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) plans to reduce the manufacturing of opioids by 25 percent in 2017 in an attempt to curb the massive amount of consumption across the U.S.
But the DEA is going up against big pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer, and Astra Zeneca, which spend way more on marketing than research and development, according to data aggregated by TheLawFirm. Johnson & Johnson spent $8.2 billion on research and development in 2013, but almost double on marketing with $17.5 billion. (RELATED: Oregon Senator Says Opioid Addicts Don’t Get Treatment, Pleads For More Funds)
The makers of prescription painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin and fentanyl spent $880 million on campaign contributions and lobbying initiatives from 2006 through, 2015, according to a report for the Associated Press and Center for Public Integrity.
Money is certainly a big part of it. Opioid abuse costs $78.5 billion a year, according to researchers at the CDC. The study did not just include of the person taking opioids, but also took into account the societal perspective, like the expenses incurred by communities.
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