New England Journal of Medicine on Opioid Abuse
A February 4 article in The New England Journal of Medicine addresses the epidemic of opioid abuse that has become the #1 leading cause of injury-related death in the United States now even surpassing vehicle accidents.
The Journal reports that approximately 100 million U.S. citizens suffer pain in the course of a year and that up to 12 million of these individuals suffer with chronic or persistent forms of pain. Consequently, pain management has become an important and vital medical service. An often employed method of managing pain includes the judicious use of prescription opioids.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimated that there were almost 19,000 deaths in 2014 due to opioid overdose. Physicians across the country have found themselves involved in a delicate balancing act between prescribing opioids for pain management while being ever wary of their potential for abuse, addiction, and possible overdose.
The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has been asked to help develop a regulatory framework that will provide review, approval, and monitoring guidelines for the medication of pain control. The FDA has strongly supported the development of opioids that have a lower potential risk of abuse as well as the development of non-opioid medications.
The issue of safe pain management will bear long-term examination due to its complexity and importance. For more on this topic, click the highlighted link at the beginning of this article.