The opioid drug addiction epidemic is seeming to always grow and become more dangerous. This is a problem that has been ongoing for quite some years, essentially plaguing the American people and causing untold problems. Millions have become addicted to opioids, hundreds of thousands have died, and billions of dollars have been spent in trying to reduce this crippling issue. And apparently, the Food and Drug Administration has a plan on how exactly they are going to put an end to opioid abuse.
Every day, fifty to seventy people die from opioids. Just one type and classification of addictive drugs actually accounts for more than sixty percent of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S. The opioid issue began as a problem in the early-2000s, advanced to a crisis in the mid-2000s, was advanced to an epidemic by the CDC in 2011, and was finally labeled a National Public Health Emergency by President Trump himself in 2017.
The particularly brutal thing about the opioid epidemic is that this is not a problem entirely coming from illegal street drugs. In fact, the majority of the opioid epidemic has been brought on by legal pharmaceutical drugs that we were being told were safe and helpful.
In the late 1990s, the federal government and the medical industry made moves towards treating pain amongst patients better. This brought on an increased use of pharmaceutical opioids, which patients then became addicted to. Fast forward twenty years and we are in the position we are in now because of this.
When we look back over the last two decades, the Food and Drug Administration approved every single pill, every single opioid, and every single pain reliever that caused every single overdose. The FDA let this happen just as much as Big Pharma did, just as much as the medical industry did, and just as much as the American people did. There is equal blame to be shared all around.
While the FDA may have begun with good intentions, their good intentions were met with distress as the American people fell prey to full-on addiction crisis thanks to massive prescribing of pharmaceutical opioids. Since about 2010, the FDA has been backpedaling, scrambling to fix the problems they allowed to come to fruition.
In 2012, a special FDA advisory panel voted eleven to two to not approve a new painkiller drug called Zohydro. Why? Because of the addiction risks the drug had. But the agency went ahead and approved the drug anyway. Also in 2012, the FDA attempted to enforce mandatory training in all doctors on the correct and proper methods for prescribing drugs. The American Medical Association fought the decision, and the FDA backed down, tail between their legs.
In the past, it is not an exaggeration to say that the FDA has dropped the ball in many instances where we needed them to be on point.
The FDA is revisiting the mandatory training of doctors on proper prescribing practices. This program was shot down before, but the new FDA panel and decision-making bodies are more in support of enforcing more strict regulations and training regimens on doctors. The AMA is still against this, but the AMA can’t keep sweeping under the rug the fact that their doctors are helping to create the epidemic.
Whether the FDA will be successful in enforcing mandatory training on doctors or not is uncertain. It still remains to be seen, as nothing like this has ever been done before. However, as we look to the future, we need to be sure that we all get behind this effort to curb opioid addiction. A big part of that starts with enforcing better practices on doctors, and on patients too.