Number of Toddlers, Teenagers Poisoned by Opioids Skyrocketing
Researchers at the Yale University School of Public Health (YUPH) have published a study showing the children and teenagers are not only being poisoned by prescribed opioid painkillers, but these drugs are contributing to the uptick in this age group’s mortality rate.
There has been a 165% increase in child and teenage opioid poising between 1997 and 2012. In that same time frame 176 children and teenagers died.
Using discharge records from over thirteen hundred hospitals across the country, collected by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the YUPH study also notes that the number of toddlers being hospitalized for opioid poisoning has doubled in that same 5 year period which is disturbing because opioids can be administered via flavored lollipops which are 100 times stronger than heroin.
Even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) confirms that from the 1990s to the 2000s, the number of underage patients being prescribed opioids has nearly doubled, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called for more caution from doctors prescribing the drug to teenagers.
to combat efforts to curb the use of opioids, pharmaceutical corporations have employed hundreds of lobbyists and invested millions in campaign contributions for the sake of protecting their industry profit margins.
The makers of OxyContin, Vicodin and other like them know that these drugs are highly addictive which is why they’ve spent an excess of $880 million across the nation from 2066 to 2015. These efforts to influence lawmakers have included groups including the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Cancer Action Network (CAN), privately-owned organizations that have employed 1,350 lobbyists to go to state capitals from Olympia, Washington to Tallahassee, Florida.
According to the Center for Public Integrity , Michigan saw drug corporations register lobbyists at an increase of 5.33%. In 2006 there were only eighteen lobbyists, but in 2015 that number rose to ninety-six.
For the last decade, more than $24 million has been spent on 7,100 state lawmakers and candidates for state government. This includes governors, house speakers, senate presidents and health committee chairs.
This includes Pain Care Forum who invested $740 million to lobby in all fifty states; and on top of the $140 million donated to political campaigns, $75 million to candidates on Capitol Hill, political action committees (PACs) and political parties in general.
For reference, that is 200 times more than other special interest groups spent in that same time period. However with opioid sales worth $9.6 billion in 2015, all this spending makes sense.
Especially when senators such as Elizabeth Warren wrote a letter to Thomas Friedan, director of the CDC back in January, regarding marijuana’s possible role in alleviating the American opioid “epidemic” by replacing it with pot as a substitute painkiller.
Warren wrote concerning “opioid abuse [as] a national concern” and suggested that the agency could not only “finalize its guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain”, but consider the long-term effects of opioid use in children; as well as the questionable use of the synthetic opioid called fentanyl.
The senator asked for more researcher into the “impact of the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana on opioid overdose deaths … [and] the use, uptake and effectiveness of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for pain treatment in states where it is legal.”
This latest push for marijuana use with regard for medical conditions is becoming a regular occurrence with Warren. Last year she and several of her colleagues wrote a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); as well as the Office of National Drug Control Policy (NDCP) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requesting governmental resources be used to “facilitate scientific research on the potential health benefits of marijuana when used for medical purposes.”
In this correspondence, Warren stated: “While the federal government has emphasized research on the potential harms associated with the use of marijuana. There is still very limited research on the potential health benefits of marijuana—despite the fact that millions of Americans are now eligible by state law to use the drug for medical purposes.”