Different Takes: Stronger Federal Effort Is Needed To Fight Opioid Epidemic; Overdoses To Blame For Alarming Trends In Aging
Opinion writers address ways to fight the opioid epidemic.
I'm Committing $50 Million To End Opioid Crisis
The opioid epidemic is a national health crisis of historic proportion. Yet the federal government is still not tackling it with the urgency it requires. The U.S. has the highest drug overdose death rate in the world, and two-thirds of the deaths are attributable to opioids. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, 47,600 Americans died last year from opioid overdoses. That’s about a 13 percent increase from 2016 — and it’s nearly as many Americans as were killed during the entire Vietnam War. (Michael R. Bloomberg and Gov. Tom Wolf, 11/30)
US Aging Trends Are More Alarming Than We Thought
The increased deaths were greatest in the 25-44 age group. With respect to race, the increased death rates were greatest in non-Hispanic white men and women. An important factor is the now familiar epidemic of drug overdoses. Drug-related deaths, which occurred at a rate of 16.3 per 100,000 in 2015 and rose to 19.8 per 100,000 in 2016, rose again to 21.7 per 100000 last year. (John Rowe, 11/29)
Richmond Times Dispatch:
Opioid Crisis Demands A National D-Day Approach
If you’re trying to make sense of why an opioid epidemic is raging in the richest nation in the history of the world — and raging it is, with 174 overdose deaths a day in the United States in 2016, triple the rate from 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control — we’d suggest you buy and read the book “Dopesick.” Written by former Roanoke Times reporter Beth Macy, it traces the history of the epidemic and shows Virginia’s uncomfortable association with it. It was in our Appalachian coalfields, in the late 1990s, that the high-dose, highly addictive narcotic painkiller OxyContin began expanding its reach beyond terminally ill cancer patients — for whom it was developed — and started being prescribed to people with more nebulous conditions, such as lower back pain. (11/28)
States Move To Substitute Opioids With Medical Marijuana To Quell Epidemic
Some experts say these laws may be in response to several studies that indicated opioid overdose death rates were lower in states that permit medical marijuana, and that opioid prescribing was lower in Medicaid and Medicare Part D programs in states with legalized medical marijuana. But the studies show an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship, said Ajay Wasan, MD, MSc, vice president of scientific affairs for the American Academy of Pain Medicine. “A lot of those states had other … initiatives to decrease opioid prescribing at the same time,” he noted. (Rebecca Voelker, 11/28)
We Can Ease Pain Without Opioids. I’m Living Proof.
The 21st Century Cures Act, enacted in late 2016, opens the door for accelerated approval for regenerative medicine, creating the very real possibility of making stem cell therapy accessible to millions of people in the United States.I am living proof that our own cells have the power to improve the quality of life of anyone in need, not just athletes, who may be living with pain. There are countless people in Houston and beyond who need this therapy today, and my hope is to see professional sports leagues lead the way in helping players get the help they need in safe, clinical settings and without addictive side effects. (Jackie Sherrill, 11/29)
Florida Preventing Doctors From Fighting Opioid Epidemic
I am not advocating that one drug be required or preferred over another, but only to let the doctor make that choice in consultation with his or her patient. There is no scientific, clinical or economic reason why the state or insurers have selected only one type of MAT treatment drug and has functionally excluded all others. ...State bureaucrats and insurance company employees – the vast majority of whom will never treat a single patient in their entire career – need to allow those of us with years of classroom and thousands of hours of clinical training the tools we need to help end this crisis. Every two hours a Floridian dies from an opioid overdose. We need help now. (Amit Vijapura, 11/29)