There is no denying that drugmakers played a role in the nationwide prescription painkiller epidemic. Now they are audaciously proposing a means of rectifying this crisis, but it is nothing more than a lobbying campaign. Drugmakers are adamant that prescription painkiller abuse can be curbed with a new wave of revamped painkillers that are harder-to-crush. The fact of the matter is that they already earned billions of dollars by selling these painkillers and there is barely any evidence that these painkiller pills really are the remedy.
Since 2000, over 165,000 people have died as a result of overdosing on addictive pain medications. The real solution to this crisis is to prompt physicians from prescribing opioid painkillers and developing more effective solutions. However, this latest lobbying campaign by drugmakers will serve as a hinderance. Drugmakers want Americans to believe that safe opioids now exist and are available, but the truth is that opioids are simply not “fully safe.” The extremely inherent risks of these opioid products are already obvious.
These latest opioid painkillers that drugmakers are vehemently pushing are being referred to as abuse-deterrent formulations (ADFs). They claim that people will not be able to inject or snort these medications because they cannot be easily crushed or dissolved. That does not mean that people, especially addicts, will not find a way to manipulate them. That also does not make ADFs any less addictive than other opioid painkillers when swallowed. In fact, it has revealed that drug abusers have been switching back to older painkillers and even heroin due to the availability of these reformulated drugs.
Along with coercing the Congress and statehouses to pass bills that would be in favor of their anti-base opioids, drugmakers have also been funding advocacy groups and physicians to push their lobbying campaign. Drugmakers have also been producing ADF opioids in injectable forms and in the form of pills that curb users from getting high or irritate them if they snort a pill.
These ADF reformulated painkillers may seem promising, but the ingredients they contain are still heroin-like, the same found in existing, traditional opioid painkillers. According to an estimate by government officials, 78 people have been dying in the U.S. everyday from overdosing on heroin and prescription opioids in recent years. According to a recent survey, even physicians have been mislead into believing that these painkillers are not addictive, which is not the case. While ADFs could play an integral role in deterring people who are already abusing opioids and/or have histories of abusing other drugs, but their effectiveness as an alternative to traditional opioids is being oversold.
It seems that the use of ADFs may even cause abusers to behave unpredictably, which is being suggested by a recent case of an outbreak of HIV in rural Indiana. A reformulated version of the opioid pain medication Opana became available in Scott County in 2011. Since abusers were not able to crush the drug easily in order to snort it, they began using and sharing syringes to inject it. Consequently, an estimated 210 people have contracted the HIV virus since 2014. Thus, it is obvious that abusers can still cook and inject ADFs like these, which suggests that addicts will still manage to find ways to abuse opioid medications as long as they know they can get high by doing so.
Even the CDC has concluded that there is no proof that suggests that rates of addiction and overdoses as well as the deaths resulting from them can be minimized through these revamped opioid painkillers. Hence, the CDC has not officially recommended that physicians prescribe ADFs to their patients mistakenly believing that they are not addictive.