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posted by martyb on Monday June 18 2018, @03:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the addiction-sucks dept.

US needs to invest 'tens of billions or hundreds of billions' to fight opioid epidemic

The goal of an opioid is to reduce pain, but the addictive drugs are creating pain for millions of families suffering through the crisis. Deaths from opioid overdoses number at least 42,000 a year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"This is an epidemic that's been getting worse over 10 to 20 years," Caleb Alexander, co-director of Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety, told CNBC's "On The Money" in a recent interview. "I think it's important that we have realistic expectations about the amount of work that it will take and the amount of coordination to turn this steamship around," Alexander added.

[...] Alexander added: "The statistics are stunning. More than 2.1 million Americans have an opioid use disorder or opioid addiction" and he says the country needs to "invest tens of billions or hundreds of billions of dollars" to shore up the treatment system. He said patients should be able to access medications that "we know work to help reduce the cravings for further opioids."

Don't mention the Portugal model!

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Attorney General is suing members of the family that runs Purdue Pharma:

Their family name graces some of the nation's most prestigious bastions of culture and learning — the Sackler Center for Arts Education at the Guggenheim Museum, the Sackler Lefcourt Center for Child Development in Manhattan and the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Columbia University, to name a few.

Now the Sackler name is front and center in a lawsuit accusing the family and the company they own and run, Purdue Pharma, of helping to fuel the deadly opioid crisis that has killed thousands of Americans. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey took the unusual step of naming eight members of the Sackler family this week in an 80-page complaint that accused Purdue Pharma of spinning a "web of illegal deceit" to boost profits.

While prosecutors in more than a dozen other states hit hard by the opioid epidemic have sued Purdue Pharma, Healey is the first to name individual Sackler family members, along with eight company executives.

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  • (Score: 2) by bobthecimmerian on Monday June 18 2018, @09:06PM (4 children)

    by bobthecimmerian (6834) on Monday June 18 2018, @09:06PM (#694711)

    In the case of heroin, cocaine, oxycodone being used by people that are not in pain for reasons other than withdrawal from them, I would say they definitely are bad. But it doesn't matter, because:

    a.) satisfying their addiction is the least immoral and least expensive to society of all options and arguably more importantly

    b.) none of us has flawless mind-reading abilities to judge for certain whether any particular person is genuinely in pain or not.

    I'm actually a little hopeful, because progress is being made on the marijuana front. I think as the amount of money saved by legalizing marijuana starts to be measured and quantified, there's a possibility that legalization of all other substances will follow. But then again this is a country that chose the only person in the country that lies more than any career politician to run things, so I'm probably just setting myself up for additional bitter disappointment.

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  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday June 18 2018, @09:23PM (3 children)

    by VLM (445) on Monday June 18 2018, @09:23PM (#694716)

    I would say they definitely are bad

    I can't find any evidence of that. If you exclude self administration of unknown, and occasionally known purity, illegal prescription drugs, the death rate drops to practically zero. Misadventure while high, mixing alcohol and other drugs, the usual association with criminals because its illegal seem to be something of a rounding error.

    Its not unheard of, but very unusual, for a patient to die while under the care of an anesthesiologist or in a hospital after surgery from pain pills ... by "crisis" they mean almost exclusively self administered substances of usually unknown purity in a medically unsupervised setting. There is no crisis without pills being illegal.

    What makes pills dangerous isn't the pill; the danger is created solely when the pills are illegal which also results in enormous numbers of secondary problems.

    • (Score: 2) by bobthecimmerian on Tuesday June 19 2018, @05:58PM (2 children)

      by bobthecimmerian (6834) on Tuesday June 19 2018, @05:58PM (#695171)

      Even if the substance is legal and involves regulated doses and purity, you still have a chemical addiction with non-zero financial costs and non-zero health risks. Plus, that addiction was artificially induced.

        To go back to your example, your colleague that requires the insulin is overwhelmingly likely to have genetics as the primary factor. I have a thin, athletic relative in his early 60s with type 2 diabetes and a morbidly obese couch potato relative a few years older than him with flawless blood sugar levels.

      A heroin addiction usually happens either purely as an error or possibly because someone is trying to self-medicate for an untreated psychiatric disorder. Something like Zoloft or Prozac will often work better for that, but once the person is hooked on heroin a successful switch is unlikely.

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday June 19 2018, @06:10PM (1 child)

        by VLM (445) on Tuesday June 19 2018, @06:10PM (#695179)

        non-zero financial costs and non-zero health risks.

        But that's my point entirely, that the non-zero cost is maybe a hundredth to thousandth the total systemic cost of the same drug being obtained illegally, and the health risks as near as I can tell from some cursory research are approx zero, right up there with taking a daily aspirin tablet.

        • (Score: 2) by bobthecimmerian on Wednesday June 20 2018, @12:01PM

          by bobthecimmerian (6834) on Wednesday June 20 2018, @12:01PM (#695547)

          I'm sorry, I think I was being too nitpicky. I agree with what you wrote there. I definitely agree that legalization should cut the costs related to addictive substances down by well more than 90%. I was just trying to make the true but pointless observation that it would be better still if everyone was free of addiction.