Prescription medications when they serve their purpose are a welcome balm of healing to our healthcare system in America. Healing and treating an array of symptoms that patients so dearly need for the care of any magnitude of ailments. However when such a pharmacology of medications gets abused by patients and ancillary individuals the society as a whole suffers. While researching the topic of prescription drug abuse in America I came across a litany of statistics. I read somewhere that Americans are 5% of the global population say around 311 million, but prescriptions are written like we are 20% of the global population. Pain Killers are the real scourge in America being excessively used. For instance more addicts die from over doses of pain killers than they do of Heroin and Cocaine combined in America.
This hasn't gone unnoticed by the trade association of the pharmaceutical industry known as PhRMA. This trade group is very concerned about these societal trends where they are vigorously engaged in community education with local community partners nationally. So says such a web page entry citing crucial data points right here. PhRMA on Prescription Drug Abuse (Link)
What I'm proposing with tonight's public health and safety societal conceptual design initiative goes much further. Than mere placing their pharmaceutical toe in the American society waters by means of community and education out reach. To share the pain (pun intended) of the mortality rate and for the living addicts getting high from their manufactured medications nationally. Meaning to establish a good faith public health trust fund of sorts available to these aforementioned community local partners. Such as drug rehab clinics and hospitals perhaps even narcotics anonymous groups. Drug Courts across America helping to staff and run them, especially by hiring more public defenders on their municipal payrolls. Aid Narcotic Vice Police squad departments with additional resources be it with awarded grants for equipment and additional personnel. Besides help the affected police departments with the disposal incineration costs of destroying seized prescription medications. Since twice a year nationally the DEA (Drug Enforcment Agency) paid by tax payers foots the bill to promote the "Prescription Drug Take-Back Day". I'll quote from their opening paragraph from November 5th of this year on their event press release. DEA Press Release (Link)
"NOV 05 (WASHINGTON) - On its ninth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on September 27, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and 4,076 of its national, tribal, and community law enforcement partners collected 617,150 pounds (309 tons) of unwanted prescription drugs at 5,495 sites. This brought the total amount of drugs collected in four years to 4,823,251 pounds, or 2,411 tons. (A breakdown of this ninth Take-Back Day’s results by state can be seen here.)"
I recall back in the 1980's during the Reagan Presidential Administration years. When cocaine when hitting the streets across America for the very first time. That eventually American military advisers a.k.a. special forces were sent to Columbia to combat the co-ca plant production. By training the Colombian National Army in dealing with this mess in their own backyard. I'm sure the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) got involved by forging partnerships of all sorts. (ie Iran-Contra Affair ring a bell?)
My point is the "War on Drugs" being a catchy phrase having mediocre success nationally in these past few decades. I hear nothing now about a war on drugs although Mexcio is practically in a civil war. With 6 major drug cartels just south of our American border. The pharmaceutical industry be it domestically is just sitting pretty making billions of dollars in profits. Some of which I suppose are from illicit uses of the medications they themselves have manufactured. I bet they have those internal numbers somewhere in accounting departments in each company. I'm not stating to declare a war on the pharmaceutical industry that is plain lubricious. However they are helping that this societal public health and safety dysfunction to continue even if indirectly. Time to pony up a few billion of dollars every year into the aforementioned Public Health & Safety Trust Fund.
I wonder if there are any unseen or unheard of policy research papers from think tanks. Exploring how culpable the pharmaceutical industry is with the prescription drug abuse? Stopping production is not what I'm advocating altougth stricter quality control distribution standards wouldn't hurt. Thankfully here in the State of Florida our recently reelected State Attorney General "Lady Pam Bondi". Spearheaded a couple years back a prescription drug database which several other States also are now using. That tracks medications between physicians, pain clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals avoiding previous abuses by addicts. Since only a couple years ago Florida was notoriously known as the Pill Mill Capitol of the country. That title no longer applies thanks to this statewide prescription drug database and Statewide Law Enforcment efforts. Here's such a finding from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) from this past July 4th 2014. Prescription Pain Killer Abuses Plummet in Florida (Link)
Florida gained notoriety after 2007 because of the proliferation of pain clinics in the state that were prescribing large quantities of drugs for pain with little medical justification and were being used primarily by persons abusing or diverting opioid analgesics, benzodiazepines, and muscle relaxants (2). In 2010, Florida was also home to 98 of the 100 U. S. physicians who dispensed the highest quantities of oxycodone directly from their offices. In response, Florida enacted several measures to address prescribing that was inconsistent with best practices. The Florida legislature required that pain clinics treating pain with controlled substances register with the state by January 4, 2010. In February 2010, the Drug Enforcement Administration and various Florida law enforcement agencies began to work together in Operation Pill Nation (3). Pain clinic regulations were further expanded later in 2010. In February 2011, law enforcement conducted statewide raids, resulting in numerous arrests, seizures of assets, and pain clinic closures. In July of that year, coinciding with a public health emergency declaration by the Florida Surgeon General, the state legislature prohibited physician dispensing of schedule II or III drugs from their offices and activated regional strike forces to address the emergency. Mandatory dispenser reporting to the newly established prescription drug monitoring program began in September 2011. Finally, in 2012, the legislature expanded regulation of wholesale drug distributors and created the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns.
About less than half of the States in our Union are each utilizing such a strict prescription drug database as a safeguard measure. Paid wholly by tax payers, don't you think the pharmaceutical industry should have some economic skin in helping States fund such initiatives? Or is the community education and local partnerships enough of a responsibility for them as a form of accountability?
Here's a national map from the mortality rates from the year 1999 and 2010 in comparison. Tracking this national drug epidemic courtesy of "Healthy Americans.org" posted last year in October 2013. Link to the National Map Comparison
Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic finds that 28 states and Washington, D.C. scored six or less out of 10 possible indicators of promising strategies to help curb prescription drug abuse. Two states, New Mexico and Vermont, got the highest score, receiving all 10 possible indicators, while South Dakota scored the lowest with two out of 10.
According to the report, prescription drug abuse has quickly become a top public health concern, as the number of drug overdose deaths - a majority of which are from prescription drugs - doubled in 29 states since 1999. The rates quadrupled in four of these states and tripled in 10 more of these states.
Prescription drug related deaths now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined, and drug overdose deaths exceed motor vehicle-related deaths in 29 states and Washington, D.C. Misuse and abuse of prescription drugs costs the country an estimated $53.4 billion a year in lost productivity, medical costs and criminal justice costs, and currently only one in 10 Americans with a substance abuse disorder receives treatment.
So my concept or requested initiative is that the pharmaceutical industry show a combined fortitude nationally. Be it through their trade association of PhRMA or other corporate institutions domestically. By placing their combined leadership and custodial responsibility to rather be a great healer. Versus an indirect benefactor financially from the sales of these illicitly used medications. To share in the burden Uncle Sam is dealing from Nationally down to our local streets. Now that States like Florida are better safeguarded from abuses by unscrupulous physicians and pain clinics writing red flag prescriptions.The drug addicts I hear on a minority basis are holding up pharmacies directly in robberies just to get their fix. So the dilemma continues from one source in distribution to another unfortunately.
Do consider how the Pharmaceutical Industry needs to be held to the highest possible standard in our health care concerns. Just as the government is in combating these efforts from the misguided end users abusing themselves and our society. However keep in mind this concept initiative can easily apply to Small Firearms Manufacturers and the Pornography Industry in America. Both are indirectly financially profiting from citizens being victimized from gun violence and sexual assaults. They should be held to a higher standard economically since the tax payer is again holding the bag once more.