Drug Companies’ Connection to the Lethal Opioid Epidemic

Drug addiction and even deaths have been an ongoing tragedy in Pennsylvania as well as the rest of the United States. However, a newer realization is that much of the problem originates with prescription drugs manufactured by drug companies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly 50 percent of fatal overdoses of opioids are the result of prescription medications manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. Prescription opioid fatalities have increased four-fold in less than twenty years. The CDC urges Pennsylvania and other states to utilize a tracking database to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of opioid medications. It has also provided guidelines for the medical community that focuses on the treatment of chronic pain with safer, more effective chronic pain treatment than opioid prescribing.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro recognizes that overdosing is now the leading cause of accidental deaths in Pennsylvania. He notes the connection to physician-prescribed opioids used for pain control that is often the start of a heroin addiction. He endeavors to review the marketing practices of drug companies to ensure there is not an effort to promote off-label prescribing. He will also join with the medical industry to thwart over-prescribing of opioids for pain management. Moreover, he encourages the public’s use of specifically provided receptacles to collect unused medications, thereby getting the drugs out of the homes where they are not needed medically in order to reduce the potential for abuse.

The connection between drug company opioids and the epidemic of overdosing in Pennsylvania is evident and many steps are being taken to address it and reduce the incidence of addiction and overdosing. The future may hold a higher level of accountability being placed on the drug companies themselves, as the relationship between their products and the dangers becomes clearer.