How Opioid Addiction Exploded During the Past Decade

How Opioid Addiction Exploded During the Past Decade

Learning More About How Opioid Addiction Exploded During the Past Decade

Many people have heard about opioid dependency growing over the last 10 years. The statistics of addiction, accidental overdose, and excessive prescriptions are alarming. A recent story that was published by Bloomberg (1) revealed a shocking trend of how the opioid addiction crisis has been fueled.

Uncovering a Plot That Fueled Addiction

According to the report, a software company called Practice Fusion was receiving money in a secret deal from an unnamed drug manufacturer to design a treatment planning program for physicians to use. Although deaths from opioid overdoses had nearly tripled during the 15 years leading up to the design of the program, the software was created anyway and was used to encourage physicians to prescribe opioids to many groups of people. The program also included longer durations for prescriptions. Based on detected criteria in a patient record, an alert for a pain management plan would go off. According to court records, the alert went off an astounding 230 million times between 2016 and 2019. The existence of the program was discovered because of a government investigation.

The Subtle Tactic Undiscovered

One of the most important points to realize about this story is that while people and advocacy groups were laying blame with all drug manufacturers, a more subtle tactic was being used by a manufacturer with the help of a software company. These entities designed a feature to push opioid sales for more prescriptions and longer durations. In turn, they have caused thousands of individuals to struggle with addiction. These people could have benefitted from other treatment options instead. A Harvard professor who serves on the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis said that the drug manufacturing industry was egregious in its actions to worsen the opioid crisis, and she called this particular case subtle and nefarious.

While the offending company remains unnamed, industry authorities believe that it is Purdue Pharma. This is because the documentation for a partnership between Purdue Pharma and Practice Fusion matches the details of the case. However, the investigation is still being conducted, and the name of the company will likely be released soon. For now, Practice Fusion has agreed to pay $145 million for damages in criminal and civil cases that relate to its program. Additionally, physicians who used the program were upset to learn that they were being manipulated by a software program that should have been designed to help patients instead of pharmaceutical company profits.

The Effects of the Opioid Crisis in Orange County

In 2017, almost 55% of hospitalizations (2) in the area were due to opioids and other prescription medications. About 80% of the deaths from drug overdoses were unintentional, and nearly one-half of those were tied to opioids. Nearly 50% of recent opioid-related deaths (3) in the area were among people between the ages of 45 and 64. Last year, there were at least 1.5 million opioid prescriptions written in Orange County. (4)

Why Opioid Addiction Treatment Is Important

Addiction is a chronic disease that must be treated beyond detoxification. Ocean Hills Recovery provides people with the right strategies and tools to overcome their addiction permanently. In addition to detox, these are some of the treatment methods that we use:

  • Collaborative therapy
  • Twelve-step programs
  • Counseling

The treatment plans at Ocean Hills Recovery address each person’s unique needs. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioids, please contact us to learn how we can help break the dangerous cycle of this addiction.

 

Sources: 

(1) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-29/health-records-company-pushed-opioids-to-doctors-in-secret-deal
(2) http://www.ochealthinfo.com/about/admin/pubs/od
(3) https://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF02/20171212/106716/HHRG-115-IF02-20171212-SD005.pdf
(4) https://www.ocregister.com/2019/12/03/opioid-death-rate-in-orange-county-eclipses-other-southern-california-counties/

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