The opioid analgesics crisis is disturbing not only the US population but medical sssociations, manufacturers and drugstore chains. Back in the 90’s, manufacturers reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. This led to widespread misuse of these medications, before tests showed opioids could be dangerously addictive.
History shows that in 2011, opioid analgesics overdose killed as much as cocaine overdose in the USA. In 2017, around 47,000 American citizens died of opioid overdose, including prescription opioidanalgesics, heroin, and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. “Both prescription opioid analgesics (such as oxycodone and hydrocodone) and heroin work through the same mechanism of action. Opioids reduce the perception of pain by binding to opioid receptors, which are found on cells in the brain and other organs in the body. The binding of these drugs to opioid receptors in reward regions in the brain produces a sense of well-being, while stimulation of opioid receptors in deeper brain regions results in drowsiness and respiratory depression, which can lead to overdose deaths.”
Through the years thousands of lawsuits were filed against manufacturers of these pain relievers, such as Purdue Pharma. Drugstores chains, such as Walgreens were also affected, and in the last years, medical associations. But why would medical associations be found guilty of the growth of the opioid crisis? Claims of special interest are what motivate these lawsuits. Medical associations are funded by third parties, as drug manufacturers, device manufacturers, insurance companies, etc. These associations allow medical meetings with these third parties on their precincts and advertising from drug and device manufacturers in its publicity.
Last May, the American Pain Society decided to vote on a bankruptcy petition. If agreed upon, the 42-year-old Society will close its doors indefinitely in 2019 and will become the second pain-related association to close its doors this year.
Bruna Correa Antochevis Machado
Pain Society’s Expected Bankruptcy by Gina Shaw – Neurology Today vol 19
Opioid crisis: Only a US phenomenon? Gruyter, March, 2019