The opioid prescribing problem

This Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. Abuse of painkillers, heroin, fentanyl and other opioids across the country has resulted in tens of thousands of children being taken from their homes and placed in the foster care system.

One of the unexpected outcomes of the opioid epidemic in northern Minnesota and across the nation is an overcorrection by doctors and prescribers that is preventing people from gaining access to pain medication.

In today’s installment of Epidemic of the North, we hear the story of one couple that travels to a different state to pick up medication for an injury. One should recall for the first installment when Joslyn Banttari first became addicted: Doctors, she claimed, were well-aware of the signs of addiction as hers where when the prescription was ended.

Drug companies like the makers like Purdue Pharma, who created OxyContin, knew the impacts of their drug and the level of addiction being seen in patients. Yet, they covered it up while doctors continued to prescribe.

Overprescribing isn’t the only cause of the opioid epidemic: Mental health issues and other drug abuses can factor in. But in the last few years the number of prescription-related overdoses and deaths remains on a rapid incline.

Now, are doctors playing it too safe? Hospitals across the nation have changed their policies for distributing opioid painkillers, making it difficult for people in need of them to gain access.

While better safe than sorry is a good route, it also encourages people to turn to the street, even without addiction playing a role.

Doctors, hospitals and pharma need to put their heads together on this issue, whether it involves new policies, more training or something else.

The current state of prescription opioids can be described as in complete disarray, and it falls on the shoulders of those who helped make the mess to clean it up.

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