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The Harrowing Prevalence of Doctors Overprescribing Opiates

Updated on

Are doctors in the US really overprescribing opiates? This question has been getting more attention as the spotlight on opiate addiction has widened from its focus on street heroin. There are many factors that have contributed to prescription opiates occupying more medicine cabinet space in the US, and making up a substantial portion of the illegal drug market. It has become impossible to ignore the fact that aggressive sales tactics by pharmaceutical representatives have contributed significantly to this growing problem.

For Drug Companies, Opiates are an Easy Sell

Several studies related to the opioid epidemic have pointed out that the marketing of drugs has exacerbated the addiction issue in the US. Unnecessary overuse of opiates is driven largely by marketing and advertising aimed at doctors. Drug ads in medical journals that might get all of their funding from advertising often have recommendations for specific drugs, whereas journals that stay in business through subscription fees tend to have articles that recommend against those same pills.1

Drug Marketing Often Focuses on Drugs With the Least Patient Benefit—and Highest Profit

The drugs that pharmaceutical companies choose to focus their direct-to-doctor marketing on tend to cause patients more harm than good.2 Researchers also found that a top-selling class of drugs known as atypical antipsychotics had little evidence that most patients got any benefit from taking them.3 With such well-funded, pushy and often deceptive marketing techniques, it’s no wonder there are so many doctors overprescribing opiates today.

Other Key Factors Contribute to the Rise of Opiate Prescriptions

Between 1991 and 2011, prescriptions for opiate painkillers increased steadily each year. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recognized that the rise in prescriptions contributed significantly to the rising trend of addiction and abuse. They found Increasing social acceptability of prescription drug use to be another important factor in the trend of doctors overprescribing opiates.4

With the Right Help, Recovery From Opiate Addiction is Possible

With so many doctors over-prescribing opiates in recent years, more and more people have become addicted. If you or your loved one is suffering from a painkiller addiction, call us today for help. Recovery Connection can help you assess your situation and let you know how to move forward down the path of recovery. Call us today at 866-812-8231.

  1. “Drug Companies’ aggressive marketing harms public health: studies,” last updated February 2011, http://www.rawstory.com/2011/02/drug-companies-aggressive-marketing-harms-public-health-studies/
  2. “The Inverse Benefit Law: How Drug Marketing Undermines Patient Safety and Public Health,” last updated March 2011, http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2010.199844
  3. “Increasing off-label use of antipsychotic medications in the United States, 1995–2008,” last updated February 2011, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pds.2082/full
  4. “America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse,”last updated May 2014, https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse
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