On May 15, 2018, Texas sued Purdue Pharmaceuticals to assign blame for the thousands of opioid-related deaths throughout the state. Claiming serious misrepresentation, Attorney General Ken Paxton plans to compensate for the 42,000 opioid overdoses that occurred in 2016.
As a practitioner, your position may require increased contact with drugs like Hydrocodone and OxyContin. As Texas finds itself in the midst of an opioid crisis, you may wonder how your prescription process might change when distributing painkillers to your ailing patients.
Physicians and HHS on high alert
As a doctor distributing pain remedies, your goal is to alleviate both agony and discomfort. When car accident victims, children with serious broken bones or those who have just endured massive surgery express their need for painkillers, you accommodate.
Unfortunately, you know that 21-29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for pain misuse them, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Administering large amounts of opioids and prescribing them for at-home use poses a massive risk for patients with addictive tendencies.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working on combating the prevalent drug issue by:
- Starting more recovery services
- Promoting the use of overdose-reversing drugs like Naloxone
- Emphasizing the dangers of the epidemic through marketing
- Engaging in advanced research on pain with addiction
- Regulate other pain-management practices
Your impact as a physician
USA Today reported that, due to the possible hiding of the addictive side-effects of opioids by Big Pharma, doctors prescribed extremely large quantities of pain medications. Over long periods of time, patients became highly addicted. When their prescription ran out, some turned to synthetic drugs like heroin and fentanyl to experience the same pain-relieving effect.
While physicians may have unknowingly contributed to the epidemic, multiple examples of doctors changing practice to lower the rate of deaths by opioids are prevalent.
Many physicians are:
- Prescribing less opioid painkillers (in terms of quantity and level of use)
- Prescribing other non-habit-forming pain reducers
- Recommending physical therapy and acupuncture
- Identifying those most at-risk for addiction
Identifying the causes of the country-wide opioid epidemic reduces the risk for future addiction problems. First steps have occurred to punish the possible culprits of isolated cases and excessive distribution, but many physicians turn to their own methods to reduce the number of opioid drugs on in Texas.