Rockville, MD – These days, Pharma is no stranger to criticism.
While the industry is getting plenty of flak for the inaccessibility of high-cost drugs, there’s another issue at hand that doesn’t have anything to do with drug scarcity: increasing cases of prescription drug misuse and abuse.
When it comes to psychotherapeutic drugs, it turns out that doctors are prescribing a lot of them. According to a federal report on U.S. prescription drug use published last week, nearly half of all Americans over the age of 12 take prescription psychotherapeutics. For many individuals, these drugs help to safely and effectively alleviate symptoms. But about 16% of all reported use qualified as misuse—that is, taking the drug in a way not directed by a doctor.
Unfortunately, misuse of prescription drugs like opioids and stimulants can lead to addiction. On top of this, many individuals who develop substance abuse disorders from prescription drug misuse have limited access to treatment.
That’s why the CDC is looking to reform current prescribing practices, and why the NIH is funding research looking into prescription drug monitoring programs. Such programs, which track controlled drug prescribing and dispensing, have already shown progress in reducing cases of opioid-related deaths from overdose.
Why This Matters
While opioids tend to be the most frequently abused medications, the way by which prescription drugs across the board are being dispensed and used is being called into question.
Needless to say, there is a huge demand for more transparency in the healthcare industry right now. Consumers and public health leaders are calling for a change in industry messaging, so ensuring that marketing content is informational and honest will likely be a major public health objective in the coming year. Bolstering clearer communication between drug companies, doctors, insurance companies, and patients is important for improving patient safety and health and building trust back into healthcare.