The Director of the Centers for Disease Control this morning joined a growing list of high-ranking government officials pointing fingers at physicians who have prescribed enough opiate painkillers for every American to have their own stash.
Speaking at the National RX Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said that although drug cartels have improved management of their supply chains and flooded the country with cheaper and more potent heroin, 75 percent of new heroin addicts say they started with prescription drugs.
“What we’ve said to doctors is remember that any single one of those prescriptions could ruin or end a patient’s life,” Frieden told an audience of hundreds of substance abuse stakeholders at the morning’s keynote session. “Prescription drugs are now gateway drugs.”
Although stopping short of blaming doctors and dentists who prescribe addictive painkillers, Frieden said reducing the supply with better prescribing practices coupled with law enforcement efforts would have a significant impact on the supply of drugs available.
“We know of no other med routinely used that kills patients so frequently and it’s dose related,” Frieden said.”I’m sorry but at the CDC we don’t sugar coat it.”
A survey released by the National Safety Council on Tuesday found 99% of doctors are prescribing opioid medicines for longer than the three-day period recommended by the CDC. Twenty-three percent said they prescribe at least a month’s worth of opioids. Evidence shows that 30-day use causes brain changes, according to the survey.