Opioid Epidemic Facts and News
Opioids are a powerful class of drugs which are designed to relieve pain. It is estimated that over 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain. It is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide, with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012. See here. One study has found that 75% of those addicted to opioids first took opioids pursuant to a prescription. Further 92% of people killed by opioid overdose, had been receiving legitimate opioid prescriptions from a health care provider for chronic pain.
Some of the most common opioid medications prescribed for pain are fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, or methadone. Some of the common brand names are Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Hysingla, Butrans, Duragesic, Nucynta, Opana.
The total number of opioid pain relievers prescribed in the United States has skyrocketed in the past 25 years. The number of prescriptions for opioids (like hydrocodone and oxycodone products) have escalated from around 76 million in 1991 to nearly 207 million in 2013, with the United States their biggest consumer globally, accounting for almost 100 percent of the world total for hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin) and 81 percent for oxycodone (e.g., Percocet). By 2002, death certificates listed opioid analgesic poisoning as a cause of death more commonly than heroin or cocaine.
Pharmaceutical companies creating these drugs and numerous physicians prescribing them have ignored the devastating effects of these drugs. Please see these resources for more information about the growing opioid epidemic caused by the companies and doctors.
Articles and Online Resources On The Opioid Epidemic
Here is an excellent online resource published by the US Centers for Disease Control on Opioid Overdoses in the US. Here are articles from CNN and CBS News on the Opioid Epidemic. Here is an article from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Here is an excellent article on the role of fentanyl in the prescription opioid epidemic. Here is an extensive article by the New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/us/opioid-crisis-epidemic.html . In response to this drug epidemic pharmaceutical companies have suggested that the solution is simply to prescribe more drugs. See this article from the Washington Post.
There have been a number of excellent documentaries produced, detailing the widespread opioid prescription and overdose epidemic in the United States. Here is a documentary produced by the FBI. PBS not only produced a great documentary on opioid overdoses, but also has an excellent information resource site as well see here. Here is a documentary explaining the proliferation and overprescription of OxyContin throughout the US.
States Filing Suit
As the evidence of manufacture wrongdoing has mounted, a number of States have filed suit on behalf of their citizens, including Missouri, West Virginia, Ohio, and Tennessee, and even the City of Everett, in Washington State.