Pharmaceutical Companies and Distributors Agree to Pay $590 Million to Settle Native American Opioid Addiction Litigation – Copyright AFP/File TIMOTHY A. CLARY
While danger of fentanyl well advertised. According to Dr. Paul Christoassistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, more can be done to detail risks of synthetic opioids. In particular, health professionals should provide advice on talking to children about the dangers of illicit drug use.
Dr. Cristo describes what needs to be done: “First of all, we need to make sure that we reduce the number of those who illegally manufacture fentanyl in the United States and also illegally sell it. And then… we need to educate young people about the dangers of using fentanyl. It is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. It can lead to death very quickly if only a small amount is swallowed.”
Going back to the root of the problem, Dr. Christo explains that opioids help people cope with chronic pain, which is a good thing. Today, however, there is an epidemic of abuse. Something went wrong?
In response to this question, Dr. Christo explains: “In the mid-1990s, more and more medical practitioners were using opioids as a first-line treatment for pain relief. And this, unfortunately, has led to an increase in the use of opioids for chronic pain and probably to an increase in their use by those who did not really need them.”
Dr. Christo also believes that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing an alarming upward trend in drug addiction, with a recent study predicting another 1.2 million drug overdose deaths in the next decade, with blacks taking the brunt of the opioid epidemic.
Dr. Cristo aims to remind those struggling with addiction to use the valuable telemedicine and telemental health services, and adds that it’s important for clinicians to promote online treatment options to their patients, including telemedicine prescriptions for critical drugs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the opioid epidemic today has developed in three phases. The first includes deaths caused by prescription opioids, the second is an increase in heroin use, and the third is a surge in the use of synthetic opioids or fentanyl. Experts say the US is right in the middle of the third phase of the epidemic due to the growing availability of fentanyl and an increase in overdose deaths from synthetic opioids.
According to a recent study, there were 632,331 drug overdoses between 1999 and 2016. Most of these deaths (78.2 percent) were related to drug overdoses with a known drug classification. Moreover, 21.8 percent were unclassified drug overdoses. Further investigation showed that of the unclassified drug overdoses, 71.8 percent were opioid-related, meaning 99,160 additional opioid-related deaths.
The CDC estimated that more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017. More than half of these deaths – about 47,000 – are suspected of being involved in opioids, according to a new study.
Another study of opioid overdose found that the number of drug overdose deaths decreased by 4 percent from 2017 to 2018. More than 67,000 people died from drug overdose in 2018, making it the leading cause of injury-related death in the US. Nearly 70 percent of these deaths were related to prescription or illicit use of opioids.
Dr. Christo adds that the drugs are getting harder to get and the chances of overdosing are increasing. This also affects the price, everything goes up and in this sense it becomes more dangerous every day.