New Year, Old Crisis: What's Next for the Opioid Epidemic? New Year, Old Crisis: What's Next for the Opioid Epidemic?

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New Year, Old Crisis: The Opioid Epidemic in 2019

The opioid crisis is still one of the most critical public health challenges of our time period. The death toll is still rising. An estimated 130 people are dying from opioid-related overdose every day.

The Department of Health and Human Services released a plan for dealing with the opioid crisis in 2019.

It has five key points:

  1. Better prevention, treatment and recovery services for addicts.
  2. Developing better methods for pain management.
  3. More quality research on pain and research on addiction.
  4. More attention on overdose-reversing drugs
  5. Get better, more accurate data on the scope of the opioid epidemic.

The Department has $10 billion allocated to put this five-point plan into action.

The Department of Justice Department of Justice is also implementing new and creative policies to fight the opioid scourge.

In 2019, they’re proposing to decrease manufacturing quotas for opioid production.

Time will tell if the quota will go through, as patients who are on opioids may strenuously object to policies that will limit their access to drugs they are currently taking for pain management. So we might see a plethora of petitions and fights over opioid policies this coming year.

The nation’s biggest drugmakers and distributors face a wave of civil lawsuits that could total tens of billions of dollars in damages.

Local governments are suing drug companies that manufacture opioids, distribute them, or sell them to patients. The coming year will see us through the big court fights. The litigation process is going to evolve over the next year. It will likely follow a similar pattern as the lawsuits against tobacco manufacturers. First, States will need to prove that opioids are harmful to patients, that the companies were unequivocally aware of the risks to users, and that the patients could not assume responsibility for the risks because the risks were concealed and patients and prescribers of the drug were not adequately informed of the risks by the manufacturers. Companies will likely be sued for the cost of healthcare and treatment for opioid addiction that the State incurred, or to help defray the cost of opening more addiction treatment centers in States that are desperately strapped for the necessary funds.

So far, the claims are that dozens of companies (manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies) made billions of dollars flooding the U.S. with prescription pain pills. On top of that, the claim accuses the companies of a concerted effort to mislead the public and physicians about the dangers of opioid medications. One example is Purdue Pharma, who created Oxycontin in the 1990s, marketed it aggressively, and advertised the following:

“In fact, the rate of addiction amongst pain patients who are treated by doctors is much less than one percent…” “These drugs should be used much more than they are for patients in pain.”

There are also smaller lawsuits pending against prescribing Doctors.

Boston U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling has been sending letters to Doctors whose patients died opioid-related deaths within 60 days of being prescribed opioids.

They are reminders and warnings, he says, that his Department is keeping an eye out for ethical prescribing practices of potentially lethal substances.

There have been Doctors indicted for manslaughter over opioid-related deaths, and the coming year will probably see more Doctors in court for their lax prescription practices.

We will be following the various lawsuits.

The United States has been pushing for better regulation of fentanyl in China for years, without much luck.

Maybe 2019 will bring changes in China and their regulatory laws.

Who knows? Although, considering the huge amount of money China is making off fentanyl sales and distribution in China, they probably won’t be so quick to completely cut such a profitable industry.

Maybe in 2019 we’ll find out if that wall between the U.S. and Mexico will ever be finished.

The next 12 months might just redefine the way America thinks about and responds to the opioid epidemic that now claims more than 40,000 lives each year.

This coming year is going to bring more contention and more awareness around the subject of opioids than last year. It’s a trending topic. Government agencies, News reporting agencies, Law Enforcement Agencies, Schools and Community Organizations, are all going to address aspects of the opioid crisis over the coming year. We can all gear up and find a way to help. The opioid crisis is not going away anytime soon. Hopefully the coming year will also bring surprising initiatives and solutions that will drive down the opioid overdose death rates and the rate of overall prescription and addiction.

The DEA and Google both provide locators to find your nearest prescription drug take back locations.

Check out The DEA and Google pages below. They contain tools and more info on the ever growing efforts to help people properly dispose of their unused prescription drugs. This is certainly part of the bigger plan to help end the opioid crisis.

DEA’s Prescription Drug Take Back Location Tool

Google’s Prescription Drug Take Back Location Tool

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