Opioid overdose is one of the most dangerous issues that the health world has been witnessing for the past few years. Everywhere, authorities and organizations are trying to find potential reasons as well. Now, a new study has proposed that drug maker gifts that are given to doctors and the number of overdose deaths are linked. This may open some unknown paths to the mystery of the addiction epidemic the country is facing.
The idea proposed here is that direct-to-physician marketing has played an important role in creating extra number of overdose deaths. It should be noted that a number of companies are spending huge amounts to gift doctors, as to make sure that certain products are promoted while others are not. The study has found that the increase of such aggressive marketing has also reflected in the number of overdose deaths.
The researchers found that in counties where the aforesaid form of marketing was aggressive, the number of opioid overdose deaths was also soaring. Keeping the trend alive, places, where manufacturers were not active in the marketing task, were shown to have less cases of opioid overdose. 68,000 doctors were paid in consultation fees, meals and trips to promote particular opioid products.
In doing so, the industry has spent more than $40 million. It also found an interesting connection between the frequency of payments and the difference in overdose death cases: for every three payments that were made to a doctor, 18% of extra overdose cases were observed within a year’s span. The study notes that the marketing practices lingered even when the epidemic was at heights.
“We acknowledge that our work describes only one part of the very complex opioid overdose crisis in this country. Even still, prescription opioids remain involved in one-third of all opioid overdose deaths, and are commonly the first medications that people encounter before transitioning to heroin or fentanyl. It is critical that we take measures now to prevent marketing from unnecessarily exposing new people to opioids they may not need,” said the lead authors.