Stronger pills raise new opioid issue

We have known for some time that even as the danger of prescription pain pills containing opioids was becoming clear, drug companies were shipping out hundreds of millions of them. Some — not all — doctors continued to write prescriptions for them despite warnings that might not be best for patients.

Now, a more insidious side to the “pill mill” scandal has been uncovered. Earlier in this decade, as the substance abuse crisis deepened, the actual number of pain pills distributed slacked off, The Associated Press found.

But at the same time, the AP concluded, “Doctors were prescribing — and the industry was supplying — stronger pills.” Higher concentrations of opioids were being built into the pills.

The role played by some drug manufacturers and distributors, as well as by some health care practitioners, is becoming known, little by little. The AP’s revelation indicates the situation is more complex than may have been recognized, however.

Clearly, the issue needs to be pursued — and those who contributed knowingly to the drug abuse epidemic need to be punished severely.


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