Perspectives: Checks On Fentanyl, Legal Prescriptions Can Help Save Lives During Opioid Epidemic
Editorial pages focus on issues surrounding the opioid epidemic.
The Washington Post:
Fentanyl Overdoses Are Killing Americans. The Country Must Not Accept Business As Usual.
Graphic evidence of America’s severe drug crisis played out over the past week. In a gruesome tableau on the New Haven Green in Connecticut, scores of people collapsed and were rushed to emergency rooms suffering violent reactions to synthetic marijuana. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported preliminary estimates that more than 72,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States last year, an increase of 9.5 percent from the year before. A big reason for the increase was illicit and deadly fentanyl, which has increasingly been cut into heroin and cocaine. (8/18)
Two Small Nudges Help Cut Back On Opioid Prescriptions
Led by the University of Southern California’s Jason Doctor, a team of researchers found a dramatic way to nudge doctors to reduce opioid prescriptions. Their starting point was simple: When patients die, clinicians often don’t find out. Their experiment involved 861 clinicians in San Diego. About half of them served as the control. The other half received this letter: “This is a courtesy communication to inform you that your patient (Name, Date of Birth) died on (date). Prescription drug overdose was either the primary cause or contributed to the death.” The letter also offered information on the risks of prescription medication-related deaths. It suggested consultation of a website with additional materials. The researchers hypothesized that the letter would reduce opioid prescriptions. To test that hypothesis, they compared the number of opioid prescriptions a few months before and a few months after the letter was sent. In the control group, prescriptions stayed pretty steady (actually they increased modestly). In the group of clinicians that received the letter, by contrast, prescriptions decreased significantly. And those clinicians were less likely to start new patients on opioids at all. (Cass R. Sunstein, 8/17)
San Francisco Chronicle:
On Fentanyl: Congress Must Avoid Another Drug War
Just like the crack cocaine epidemic that resulted in overly harsh penalties targeted at African Americans in the 1980s, fentanyl and other synthetic drugs are poised to be the next drugs that politicians use to justify long prison sentences for drug users. (Diana Goldstein, 8/17)
Infectious Disease Monitoring — More Care Needed To Control Impacts Of Opioid Crisis
From where we sit in Kentucky, there’s no time to waste, and the bills under consideration would help to lessen the impact of the opioid epidemic. We hope Congress will do what it takes to ensure that a bill including the infectious diseases prevention and workforce provisions is signed into law and fully funded so we and other healthcare providers can do what it takes to lessen and eventually end the multi-faceted impacts of the opioid crisis. (Alice Thornton and Nicole Leedy, 8/17)