Research shows that behind the epidemic of opiate use in the United States, there are factors that play a key role: marketing by which several laboratories promote these drugs. In two years they spent around US $ 39.7 million.
The past few years have not been easy for US health authorities. Because some media have begun to uncover the annoying addiction rates for some opiates, the alarm sounds. Being one of the most powerful analgesics to treat pain, these drugs have been added to the list of major addictions. A figure summarizes the problem: more than 42 thousand people died in 2016 due to excessive consumption. (Read opioid drugs: in Colombia there are even inequalities to treat pain)
The reason why these substances are soaring has doubled. In difficult equations that must be analyzed to understand the epidemic, many factors come into play. One of them has just been evaluated in an article published in JAMA Network Open: a gift that doctors often give to several pharmacy houses. (Read: Gray drug area in Colombia)
Conducted by a group of researchers from Boston Medical Center and the School of Medicine at the University of New York, this study shows that there might be a connection between the laboratory giving to health professionals and deaths from opioid overdose
Reason In countries where doctors receive more travel, food and consultation fees from opioid producers, the number of deaths involving prescription opioids is higher. In some cases, 18% higher.
In other words, as they pointed out in their article, "this study adds to the recent literature that shows that the commercialization of specific products by pharmaceutical companies can be associated with increased prescription of these drugs. Recent data show that when doctors receive opioid marketing, they then prescribe more opioids. "
What the authors refer to is that between 1 August 2013 and 31 December 2015, pharmaceutical companies spent around US $ 39.7 million on the marketing of these drugs. It was a promotion that reached nearly 68,000 doctors in 2208 US states. Many receive this gift in the form of travel, meals, or as part of a payment for a consultant. In fact, as The New York Times showed, between two years, 1 in 12 doctors was exposed to opioid marketing.
To reach this conclusion, the team led by Dr. Scott E. Hadland from Boston Medical Center, examined several databases. One of them is "Open Payments", where payments or gifts made by pharmaceutical companies to doctors are recorded. Others contain data on drug overdose from the center for disease control and prevention. Another stored opioid recipe at a pharmacy.
However, as Hadland admitted to The New York Times, this study has several limitations. "We recognize that our work only describes one part of the crisis of very complex opioid overdoses, but prescription drugs still account for one third of all overdose deaths and are generally the first drug people encounter before transitioning to overdose. Heroin or fentanyl. It is important that we take steps. steps to prevent marketing that do not need to expose new people who do not need opioids, "he said.
However, as I explained a few months ago to this newspaper Liliana de Lima, director of the International Association for Hospice & Palliative Care, based in Houston (USA), this is a problem related to tweezers. The reason most of their overdoses in the US are related to heroin, which comes from illegal, and fentanyl, a very powerful substance used as an anesthetic, which begins to arrive in envelopes from China. Migration officials have no way to detect it.
"This is a very different reality from other countries," he said to explain that while North America consumes these substances skyrocketing, elsewhere, like Colombia, many patients still have very limited access to prevent them from feeling less sick
In the case of the United States, Hadland and his team believe that we must begin to analyze this problem more carefully. His concerns summarized in one sentence: "In the midst of a national crisis of opioid overdoses, it can be justified to re-examine the influence of the pharmaceutical industry."