Health Care Reform Project, Part 1:
Prescription Drug Abuse and the Economy
Kamala Mohorne, Melissa B Robbins, Sheila Henry, Doreen Austin HCS/440
December 15, 2015
Prescription Drug Abuse and the Economy
The abuse of prescription drugs in the United States has risen, and costs large amounts of money. A study suggests the overall cost of painkiller abuse is at more than $70 billion each year, due to addicts that abuse these prescription pain killers by shopping around for doctors to score prescriptions, which costs insurers $10,000 to $15,000 per individual. The toll reaches further than just the insurers, the toll in lost productivity is at $42 billion, and the criminal justice bill is $8.2 billion, which obviously puts a great strain on the economy. An alliance of consumer groups, insurance companies and government agencies called the “Coalition Against Insurance Fraud” published a study in 2007 in which they estimate the cost of prescription drug abuse is up to $72.5 billion for insurers. Other reports have shown that the cost for prescription drug abuse have risen in the years since the study established in 2007. As mentioned above the addicts abusing the system, shopping around for prescription drugs costs insurers up to $15,000 a year, while dealers that sell these prescription drugs illegally stockpile bogus prescriptions and insurance claims. This abuse of prescription drugs does not only have effects on the economy of the United States, but also on the millions of Americans that depend on the prescription drugs to treat the many chronic pains and illnesses (CNN Money, 2012). Many states have implemented PDMP’s (Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs), which are databases that track the distribution of prescription drugs, which includes the patient, which it is prescribed to. These monitoring programs are supposed to enable doctors and law enforcement officials to be able to identify possible abuse. To be able to use these programs to the full potential and to be effective, real-time data is necessary for providers, pharmacists and law enforcement, while the programs should also be connected nationally to prevent individuals from doctor shopping (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2008). Prescription Drug Abuse
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) refers to prescription drug abuse as an epidemic, yet the largest focus to decrease drug abuse and consumption has been on illegal drugs such as cocaine. Data from the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health (NSDUH) reported nearly one-third of children over the age of 12 who used drugs for the first time in 2009 first began by taking prescription drugs, not for medical reasons such as treatment for illness.
Some individuals will choose to misuse prescription drugs simply due to the belief they are “safer” compared to other illegal drugs, such as meth and cocaine. Given they are prescribed by a licensed practitioner and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist at a pharmacy, they are assumed to be safe. The prescription drug abuse epidemic is a top priority in public health, and a major factor for the economy.
The four major aspects needed to reduce prescription drug abuse include but are not limited to: Education
Proper Medication Disposal
All of these are addressed in the 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan that expands on the Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Safety.
The article addresses scary statistics including 70% of those who abuse prescription drugs admit to obtaining them from friends or relatives. While only 5% appeared to obtain them from dealers or illegal internet sights. In the 10-year period from 199-2007, the milligram-per-person use of opioids in the U.S. increased by 402%. During 2000 retail pharmacies dispensed 174 million prescriptions for opioid but by 20009 257 million prescriptions were dispensed.
Changes need to be made. Much can be done...
References: CNN Money. (2012, February 24). How prescription drug abuse costs you money. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/22/news/economy/prescription_drug_abuse/
ConsumerReports.org. (2012, September). Sluggish economy forces Americans to cut corners to pay for medications. Retrieved from http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/09/sluggish-economy-forces-americans-to-cut-corners-to-pay-for-medications/index.htm
Johnson, L. (2013). Teen abuse of prescription drugs up 33 percent, includes Ritalin, Adderall. Natural News.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2008, July). Addiction Science: From Molecules to Managed Care. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/addiction-science-molecules-to-managed-care/introduction/drug-abuse-costs-united-states-economy-hundreds-billions-dollars-in-increased-health
Prescription drug abuse. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/prescription-drug-abuse
Substance abuse and the Affordable Care Act. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/healthcare
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