Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death among Americans under 50, with opioid addiction fueling the crisis. What’s happening, and how can lawmakers, law enforcement and communities work together to stop the addiction?
Peter Pitts, president and co-founder of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, joined Wednesday’s “The Morning Blaze with Doc Thompson.” He talked about practical ways that the medical community and insurers can fight the problem, including better education for doctors writing prescriptions and stopping coverage on cheap, generic opioids that only get people addicted.
“Opioids are oftentimes the first line in treatment, when there are non-opioid medicines out there that are … not being used largely because insurance companies don’t want to pay for more expensive medicine,” Pitts explained. “It’s an ecosystem problem.”
The opioid drug category includes the illicit drug heroin as well as legal prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, codeine and others. Doctors like to prescribe opioids because they are inexpensive and give people quick results.
“It really starts with too many pills on the market for the wrong reasons,” Pitts said.
The blame for the opioid epidemic tends to go in a cycle, with companies blaming people who misuse the drugs, state authorities suing the companies, and taxpayers then having to foot the bill for the legal costs. Lawmakers are trying to find solutions, but treatment for addicts is both expensive and time-consuming.