Drug Addiction, Facts About Addiction, Substance Abuse, Uncategorized  |  December 22, 2015

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) earlier this Fall announced efforts to try and reduce the number of opioid painkiller prescriptions issued by the nation’s physicians.

It was an unusual move – and one that shifted the focus of the CDC into areas normally reserved for the FDA.

Why did they do it?   Rates of addiction to these highly addictive drugs are skyrocketing in the U.S.  And with addiction to these drugs has come an epidemic of heroin addiction that is hitting every sector of society hard.

Are physicians aware of the great harm they are doing?

Well – the CDC wants to make sure they are.

But guess what – the big pharmaceutical giants, the ones that make these painkilling drugs – and their allies - are fighting back, working hard to frustrate the CDC’s efforts.

Why on earth would anyone fight efforts to restrain the use of this very addictive drug class?

There are at least nine billion reasons.  That is – drug companies make over $9 billion a year on the sale of these drugs – that according to IMS Health.

So what has the CDC talked of recommending?  New prescription guideline for physicians – guidelines that call for doctors to prescribe these drugs only as a last resort for chronic pain – after other options like physical therapy and non-addictive painkillers are tried first.  They are also calling on physicians to prescribe smaller supplies of these drugs – usually three days or less for acute pain.

When might these guidelines take effect?  The CDC’s original intent was to issue them in January.  That initiative has now been delayed.

What happened?

Months of lobbying by physician and patient groups aligned with the pharmaceutical industry have forced the CDC to pull back and seek further public and industry feedback on the new guidelines.

Sadly, the big drug companies have almost always had a prominent seat at the table in federal discussions on painkillers.   And as a result, they have had far more influence over federal policy than addiction activists, according to experts.

A blatant conflict of interest?

You bet.

Hopefully the CDC will prevail.  Gaining control over the availability of these drugs is long overdue.