According to The Age:
Big pharma (a clone of big tobacco) is cashing in on the legal opiate addiction business for killing pain just as they are with methadone and buprenorphine that are used as ‘maintenance drugs’ for heroin addicts. In fact the effects of all these drugs are pharmacologically similar - they are all opiates.
AMERICANS took more than 90,000 kilograms of painkillers in 2005, with sales of five major painkillers almost doubling between 1997 and 2005.
The dramatic increase has been attributed to the ageing population and aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies. (my bold)
According to analysis by the Associated Press of figures from the Drug Enforcement Administration, more than 91,000 kilo-grams of codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and meperidine were purchased in 2005, the most recent year of the data. This equates to 300 milligrams of painkillers for every person in the country.
The main increase was in the sale of oxycodone, the chemical used in OxyContin, which increased sixfold…….
AP found that the reason for the increases was that the population of the US was getting older, with the number of Americans aged over 65 expected to reach 65 million by 2020 — almost double the 35 million over-65s in 2000.
But it also said that drug manufacturers had embarked on unprecedented marketing campaigns, with spending on drug marketing almost trebling from $11
billion in 1997 to nearly $30 billion in 2005.
These drugs are ideal products to market. Just like nicotine once you are addicted to any of them it is something you do for life – providing a lifelong stream of income to those supplying them. Indeed in many cases you can get the taxpayer to subsidise the cost of providing these drugs on the grounds that you are treating pain or treating heroin addiction among 'disadvantaged' groups.
Many in the medical profession promote methadone and buprenorphine as ways of practising harm minimisation with respect to heroin users. This is assisted by professional medical groups such as APSAD (Australian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs) who hold staged promotional sessions for drugs such as buprenorphine at their annual conference meetings. I have attended the last two myself.
Dare to question the case for substituting dependence on one addictive opiate for another and you will get a blasting. Addictive drug use is purely a medical issue and other views are not tolerated.
By the way how are so many drug users gaining access to prescription painkillers which they abuse are prescribed these painkillers by doctors? My assumption is that most are. In this sense the problem of painkiller abuse is a medical problem. It stems from selfish, inept and perhaps lazy doctors who do not do their proper duty with respect to those they are supposed to exercise a duty of care toward.
I'll try to get some data together on the extent of the painkiller issue in Australia. I know it is bad here but not quite as bad as for the US.