The Senate Finance Committee is looking into an inquiry that two senators proposed over financial ties concerning some pain experts and the producers of certain prescription painkillers. The New York Times recently reported that the committee is reviewing an inquiry to make certain doctors and their patients are getting the correct information regarding their medications’ benefits and risks.
The committee is concerned about the financial ties with producers of the painkillers and has sent letters to numerous academic experts to gather information about their involvement with the producers.
One senator added that the problem of opioid abuse is going from bad to worse and that narcotic painkiller overdoes are an epidemic. The senator added that it is quite clear patients are not getting the entire picture about the risks involved by taking their medications.
Opioids are narcotic painkillers that include drugs such as Fentanyl, Methadone, OxyContin and Vicodin. They are currently the most largely prescribed kind of drug in the U.S. and the prescriptions written for them have increased four times in the past decade.
Some states have more people dying annually from these kinds of overdoses than are killed in highway automobile accidents. The concerns are growing about the significant risks that come from using such drugs over a long period or in high doses.
We understand the opioids can, in fact, be valuable when taken carefully. Some critics believe experts and drug industry organizations have exerted way too much authority over how these drugs have been regulated and how the doctors have perceived them.
One psychiatrist with the Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing group feels these experts and organizations are conducting practices that are promoting harm among patients.
For quite some time the use of such strong opioids was mostly limited to patients with cancer or those near the end of their life.