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Should Doctors Receive Mandatory Education on Painkiller Prescribing Practices?

docsSeveral years ago our culture did not rely as heavily on prescription narcotics to manage chronic pain. In fact, if someone suffered from even moderate pain, many doctors sought other ways to address the problems and only resorted to painkillers if lesser treatments didn’t work.

This all changed when the pharmaceutical companies developed drugs like Oxycontin. Sales representatives visited doctors and assured them that prescribing painkillers was the more humane option to deal with chronic pain issues. Doctors were encouraged to write more prescriptions for opioid narcotics, and soon millions more people were abusing the drugs. According to multiple lawsuits, the threat of addiction was severely downplayed by the pharmaceutical companies.

The more recent trend towards prescribing more narcotic painkillers changed society in that people had access to these drugs like they never had before. These opiates are very similar to heroin, in that they provide the same euphoric feeling, they interact with the brain in the same way heroin does and they have similar withdrawal symptoms. Perhaps physicians would not have been so quick to write so many prescriptions had they known what kind of epidemic would begin. The DEA has set up their own physician training system that some say should be mandatory for all doctors.

Prescription drug abuse continues to invade towns throughout the country. In fact, almost 15,000 people die every year from prescription drug overdoses. In addition to the increased efforts to remove excess prescription drugs from the street through take back efforts, educating physicians on better prescribing practices would be a good idea along with holding pharmaceutical companies responsible for deceptive sales techniques.

While it is important to help those who are suffering from chronic problems and provide them with the best quality of life, there is also a responsibility to the community. Reducing the number of prescription drugs on the street is one way, without of course denying the medications for those who truly need them. Saving lives and preventing addiction are the goals.