Nearly half a million people in the United States have been prescribed too many opioid drugs. Individuals that were on Medicare’s drug plan received shockingly large amounts. Of those prescribed, individuals consumed dangerously powerful dosages of opioid drugs.
In this past year, 22,000 people had admitted to “doctor shipping” for drugs. Like overprescribing, it put both groups “‘at serious risk of opioid misuse or overdose,’ a government watchdog reported Thursday” (Bernstein, 2017, n.p.). According to the Inspector General’s office of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, people took drug amounts considered too large under the standards set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2015, more than 15,000 people overdosed due to prescribed opioids. On average, only people who are 65 and older qualify for Medicare. “In 2016, 43.6 million people were covered” (Bernstein, 2017, n.p.). The only presumption is that senior citizens could have possibly abused painkillers as a result of injury or disability.
“The opioid crisis has been most closely linked to people between the ages of 25 and 44, particularly economically stressed whites and people in rural and small-town America. But the new report shows that older people are far from immune” (Bernstein, 2017, n.p.). This drug problem is increasing average death rates for all Americans in our country.
This is where Donald Trump’s “New War on Drugs” comes into play. The small amount of individuals who monitor or have someone else monitor their intake of their prescribed painkillers fear that they will no longer be able to receive their medications. Some patients that have chronic day to day pain need these medications in order to function. In a Washington Post poll taken last year, the majority of long-term opioid users said that “the drugs have dramatically improved their lives by relieving intractable pain” (Bernstein, 2017, n.p.).
The CDC doesn’t recommend consumption of more than 90 milligrams per day. They also added that use of the drug or drugs for more than three months in a row raises addiction risks; the most common drugs were Tramadol and hydrocodone or oxycodone pills. “In the extreme group, 678 people received more than 1,000 milligrams a day for the entire year — a level that might indicate they were selling or otherwise diverting their drugs to others” (Bernstein, 2017, n.p.).
“‘Although beneficiaries may receive opioids from multiple prescribers or pharmacies for legitimate reasons,’ the report noted, ‘these patterns raise concern’” (Bernstein, 2017, n.p.). The known “Doctor Shoppers” apparently received more than 120 milligrams of controlled substances daily for at least three months. And used at least four prescribers and pharmacies in 2016.
The drugs purchased were authorized by prescribers who willingly placed them in the hands of at least one person at serious risk or misuse or overdose because of their consumption patterns. (Bernstein, 2017)
For more information on this topic please read “Half a million Medicare recipients.”
Bernstein, L. (2017, July 13). Half a million Medicare recipients were prescribed too many opioid drugs last year. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/07/13/half-a-million-medicare-recipients-were-prescribed-too-many-opioid-drugs-last-year/?utm_term=.d4291d065398