A major new study on the opioid epidemic that has swept through Ohio and much of the rest of the country says the painkillers that triggered the crisis likely never should have been prescribed for many chronic pains.
David Clark directs a Veterans Affairs Pain Clinic in California and is one of the 18 researchers who participated the study for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. He says opioids are undeniably beneficial for advanced stages of cancer, severe injuries and for end-of-life treatments:
“Much less well-established is the role of these drugs in the management of pain for patients with chronic pain conditions such as osteoarthritis and low back pain, and in fact there is at least some evidence suggesting the medications do not work as well as expected and that outcomes in fact might be worsened.
The report calls for the FDA to re-review opioids it has already approved and to ensure that public health is key when any new opioids are being considered. When it comes to treatment, the report calls for special attention for subgroups such as pregnant women and highlights one program in Ohio that combines methadone and other medical treatments with prenatal care and case management.
Click here for the highlights of the report.
Lee Hoffer is a medical anthropologist at Case Western Reserve University and one of the team that spent more than a year researching and compiling the report. He’s been studying the impact of drugs since the mid-90s, but says he’s seen nothing of this magnitude.
The report also recommends expanding the availability of naloxone and other overdose interventions. Hoffer can that often be the best hope of eventually getting someone into treatment.