The USA Drug Supply Chain and Healthcare System
is a complex organism
Some pharma companies start to introduce new opioid medications, very effective pain relievers,
to guarantee a solution to chronic pain.
The investments in marketing are huge:
in 2001 Purdue Pharma reach an expenditure of
The first campaigns for the promotion of opioids are aggressive.
Furthermore, the given information underrated the risks
of those drugs, chemically similar to heroin.
In 2007 Purdue Pharma is condemned for misleading marketing of OxyContin with a fine of
The main pharma companies active in the 90s were Purdue Pharma and Cephalon. In 1998 Purdue Pharma intensively promoted OxyContin – an opioid drug released in 1996 – with the campaign ‘I got my life back' addressed to doctors. The presented data about the risks of addiction was based on the study of short-term treatments and was not representative of the prolonged cures needed for chronic pain.
Doctors choose opioid medications to ensure relief from pain
and better life quality to their patients.
The prescriptions for this type of medicines end up growing sharply, nearly doubling in a 15 years span.
Unlike other countries, opioids become frequently adopted
to treat also chronic non–cancer-related pain.
Even accounting only about the 4,4% of the global population,
in 2015 America consumed
Since the 1990s, the steady growth of prescriptions for opioids has coincided with an increase in victims of legal opiate overdose. Only in 2010, legislative efforts have begun to slow down the number of prescriptions, with no effect on the trend of deaths. This is likely caused by the increased prevalence of strong synthetic opiates and the strengthening of their illegal market. In any case, the consumption in the United States remains the highest in the world with 47,580 doses of narcotic drugs consumed per day per million people, according to 2015 estimates.
Thanks to the efficacy of opioids, patients can easily get
total pain relief and go back to their daily life.
The strength of the most common of those medications is clear when compared to their morphine equivalent.
The effectiveness of the drugs, their relatively easy purchase and
the need to progressively increase the dose
lead a lot of people to misuse and abuse opioids.
At this point, the patient is one step away from addiction.
Differently from what you may expect, most of the opioids addicted are white men with means to afford insurance. The percentage is extremely high for young and middle-aged, both for men and women. In fact, the number of women taking legal opioids sharply increased during the years. Among all the victims caused by this epidemic, there are few worth to be mentioned as they are worldwide known: Heath Ledger, Paul Grey, Michael Jackson and Prince all died from legal opioids overdose.
The Opioid System is a complex organism
The paradox of a system for public health that started an epidemic
This phenomenon regards USA but think for a second to:
accessible to people
that can be dangerous to the death
Is there anything
similar in your country?