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Study: Opioid epidemic related to the marketing of pharmaceutical companies



We now have more evidence that pharmaceutical companies have helped cause the opioid epidemic in America, which was associated with a record 47,600 deaths of overdose opioids in 2017: A new study links drug companies' marketing of opioid painkillers to mortality cases. For years, businesses have spent billions of dollars to sell their products to doctors, doctors and other doctors with speaking fees, free nights, paid trips, and more. When pharmaceutical companies release their opioid pills, like OxyContin, starting in the 1990s, they use many of these same tactics to convince doctors, contrary to the evidence that drugs are safe and effective by persuading them to prescribe many more drugs.

The new study at JAMA Network Open examined the potential link between opioid marketing to US physicians and the overdose deaths of opioid pain relievers at county level. Researchers have found that where there is more marketing, there are more deaths.

The research by researchers at Boston University, UC Davis, New York University and Brown University, has seen more than 430,000 marketing payments amounting to $ 39.7 million for about 68,000 doctors in the US between August 201

3 and December 2015. They then looked at county level data to see if the payments had an effect on the overdose overdose mortality rates one year later. If marketing has led to more prescriptions for opiate use, and more prescriptive prescriptions have led to more abuse, addiction and overdose, then you can expect overdose deaths with painkillers to increase in places that have received more marketing. and more overdose deaths [T] The United States continues to significantly outperform the rest of the developed countries with regard to prescribing opiates, and many people with opiate use are first introduced with prescription opiates, " researchers. "Our findings suggest that opiate marketing directly to a doctor may counteract current national efforts to reduce the number of prescribed opiates and that policymakers may consider restrictions on these activities as part of a robust evidence-based response to the overdose epidemic opioids in the United States. "

The cost of marketing does not seem to have as much impact as the number of marketing interactions, which implies that less the financial impact than the contact with a medical doctor-marketer has a significant effect on the practices of prescribers. For countries (like New Jersey) who are trying to limit opiate marketing, understanding this dynamics is key to implementing the most effective policies. pharmaceutical companies may be subtle and widespread, displaying low-value payments that are on a very large scale, "the researchers said.

The study had some important warnings. On the one hand, the researchers did not rule out the reverse causality. For example, traders may go to doctors who are already prescribing more opiates, as marketers see these doctors as reliable targets. In this case, it may not be that marketing has led to more overdose prescriptions and deaths, but that more prescriptions have led to greater marketing. Another warning: Opioid painkillers are not the only cause of overdose deaths in the US – especially since illegal opioids, such as illegal fentanyl and heroin, have disappeared – although they are still involved in 40% of overdose deaths , according to the study. Whether and how many more prescriptions for opiates can lead to other types of overdose opioid deaths should be studied further, the researchers have warned.

The study also can not distinguish between deaths caused by opioid painkillers that were prescribed to the victim and those who were illegally received through, for example, a family member or the black market.

However, together with a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine last year, the findings are certainly suggestive – exposing one of the ways in which Pharmaceutical companies are likely to have helped for the deadliest overdose crises of Drugs in US History

There is other evidence that opiate marketing has helped the overdose crisis

The opiate epidemic can be understood in three waves. In the first wave, beginning in the late 1990s and early 2000s, doctors prescribed many opioid painkillers. This causes the spread of drugs to widespread abuse and addiction – not just patients, but also friends and family of patients, teenagers who take medicines from their parents' medical cabinets and people who buy pills from the black market.

The second wave of overdose of drugs began in the 2000s when heroin flooded the illicit market as drug dealers and traffickers took advantage of a new population of people who used opiates but either lost access to painkillers, good, cheaper high level. And in the United States there has been a third wave in recent years, as fentanyl offers an even more powerful, cheaper and more lethal alternative to heroin.

This is the first wave that really pushed the opioid crisis – where trade in opioid painkillers is likely to be most appropriate. (But the survey can only look at the latest data because such statistics do not exist in previous years, so we do not know if things are getting worse or better when it comes to marketing.)

Several years have seen more and more messages, that opioid companies are aggressively selling their products even when it becomes clearer that drugs are not safe, an effective alternative to other painkillers on the market that they claim to be opioids. Recently in Massachusetts Chief Prosecutor Maura Haley's statement against Perrey Pharma, producer of OxyContin, was revealed how personally Richard Sackler, then Purdue's president and part of the Skeler family who owns Purdue, has been involved in some of these efforts. The statement claims that Sacher is forced to sell OxyContin as "non-narcotic" in other countries, although it is an opioid; Robert Caiko, who created OxyContin, had to deviate it from the idea.

The company also claims to have ignored the excessive prescription in the US, even when some of Purdue's staff warned about pill mills to be reported to federal officials, Maia Szalavitz reported on Tonic. with the biased and inaccurate characteristics of these papers and individual defendants, often pointing to potential ways of action that were ultimately rejected by the company.

However, other reports show that opioid companies are widely irresponsible. As a group of public health experts explained in the Annual Public Health Review opioid companies exaggerate the benefits and safety of their products, support advocacy groups and "education" campaigns that encourage the widespread use of opiates, and lobby legislators to loosen access to drugs. Purdue, as the producer of the then OxyContin, played a major role in these efforts, but there were also companies like Endo, Teva and Abbott Laboratories.

Result: With the rise in opiate sales, addiction and overdose were also observed.


  When sales of opioid painkillers have increased, more and more people become addicted - and they die.

Annual Public Health Review

Not only that drugs have been lethal; they were also not as efficient as Purdue and others. There is only very little scientific evidence that opioid painkillers can effectively treat long-term chronic pain as patients grow tolerant to the effects of opioids – but there is much evidence that prolonged use can lead to very bad complications including a higher risk of addiction, overdose, and death. In short, risks and disadvantages outweigh the benefits for most patients with pain.

In some cases, drug companies are facing consequences for their defective claims. In 2007, Purdue Pharma and three of its senior executives paid over $ 630 million federal fines for their misleading marketing. The three leaders were also convicted of criminal liability, each of whom was sentenced to three years of probation and 400 hours of community service.

Last year, with public pressure and control, Purdue announced he would stop selling his opiate to doctors.

But Perdu and others may soon face greater consequences. A Cleveland judge has consolidated lawsuits against opioid companies in an attempt to reach a big deal. The hope is that the deal will not only curb trade from opioid companies, but will also lead to a financial settlement that will pay for the treatment of addiction in the United States.

The latest study in JAMA Open Network suggests that these steps, especially market constraints, could help overcome the current opioid crisis – and perhaps prevent future crises

For more information about how to fight the problem of the American opioid painkiller, read Vox's explanation. Twice a week, you will get ideas and solutions to tackle our biggest challenges: improving public health, reducing human and animal suffering, relieving catastrophic risks, and, to put it simply, improving good.


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