More than 16,000 Americans die each year from prescription drug overdoses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such deaths have increased more than 300 percent since 1998, while prescribing rates for these drugs quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. Narcotic pain relievers—known as opioids—were involved in 75 percent of the nation’s drug overdoses. Deaths connected to opioid misuse now exceed those from heroin and cocaine combined.
Prescription drug abuse also takes a financial toll, with public and private insurers incurring an estimated $72.5 billion in costs each year because of direct drug costs and medical care that results from the misuse and abuse of opioids and other drugs. In fact, every dollar spent on these prescriptions generates an estimated $41 in related medical claims. Yet health insurers—particularly Medicare and Medicaid—have limited options for curtailing drug overuse and abuse, and physicians and pharmacists have few reliable tools to detect at-risk patients.
The Pew Charitable Trusts recognizes prescription drug abuse as a public health crisis in the United States that must be addressed. Pew’s prescription drug abuse project works to develop and support policies that will help reduce the inappropriate use of prescription drugs while ensuring that patients with legitimate medical needs have access to effective pain management.
On April 15, The Pew Charitable Trusts sent a letter to Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Patty Murray (D-WA), and to Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), urging them to include funding for the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorders in their committees’ fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bills. Read More
The Pew Charitable Trusts is pleased to offer comments to the Substance Abuse and Mental HealthServices Administration (SAMHSA) on the proposed rule addressing changes to the Confidentiality ofAlcohol and Drug Abuse Records. Read More
President Barack Obama’s plan to increase access to effective substance abuse treatment was met with a standing ovation in Atlanta yesterday at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, where clinicians, public health officials, and law enforcement personnel gathered to discuss solutions to the nation’s epidemic of opioid abuse and overdose deaths. Read More