Prescription drugs have taken the lives of more than 100,000 people every year since 2008. Today over 7.5 million Americans abuse some form of pharmaceutical drug, these drugs require a prescription by a doctor in order to obtain them. In fact, many users first got their hands on these drugs through the help of their trusted physician, however many also acquire them illegally. It has become an epidemic which seems to have no remedy, no patient ever expects to become addicted to the medication prescribed by their doctor because they entrust these doctors to do them no harm. Nevertheless, over 25 percent of patients admitted to the emergency room will later develop some sort of chemical dependency, it is a growing epidemic that all medical professionals are aware of and still nothing is being done to prevent it. Many physicians are not following guidelines when it comes to prescribing and withdrawing medications, they also allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise products to their patients and therefore are responsible for the pharmaceutical drug crisis in the United States.
This crisis did not occur overnight, it has flourished into a massive dilemma over the course of several years. The United States makes up a total of 5 percent of the world’s population and is responsible for consuming 75 percent of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs. Doctors know that there are guidelines to be followed when prescribing any kind of medication, especially when it comes to opioids. However, in many cases these guidelines are not followed which is how several people still have access to these medications. Recent studies have shown that prescription drug use has increased by 85 percent in the past 2 decades according to CDC data, and today more than 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug. Part of the problem is that doctors are no longer concerned with the well-being of their patients but rather how much money they can get out of them, which is why pharmaceutical drugs are in high demand. Many times doctors prescribe medications which will cause side effects and will then prescribe medications to subside the side effects of the original medication, which leads to over-prescribing. In June of last year Dr. Regan Nichols was charged with five counts of second degree murder due to over-prescribing medications. Evidence proves she prescribed over 3 million doses of narcotics to patients within a five year time frame. Within those five years, ten of her patients died by drug overdose. Doctors play a big role in this epidemic, however they are not the only ones at fault.
Pharmaceutical companies play just as big of a role as doctors when it comes to this nationwide epidemic, they flood the hospitals with thousands of different medications and encourage doctors to try their products. These companies advertise their products to doctors with misleading information and leave out important factors such as addiction potential. Due to these instances many state and local governments enacted lawsuits against certain pharmaceutical companies and many hospitals no longer allow for companies to send representatives to advertise to their staff. Many may argue that those at fault are not doctors or big pharmaceutical companies but rather those consuming the drug. Although the user is responsible for him or herself it is undeniable that most users would have never been exposed to these drugs without the help of a physician.
In order to reach the goal of sobriety in the United States doctors must consider all alternatives when prescribing addictive medications and big pharmaceutical companies need to stop pursuing money and consider the lives at risk when they advertise highly addictive drugs. Only then will the drug epidemic in the United States begin to diminish.
Contributing Writer: Janette Medero