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Doctors Have a Responsibility to Their Patients, Not Pharmaceutical Companies

opiate pills

Pharmaceutical companies have spent millions of dollars and countless hours marketing their products to hospitals, medical schools, and individual physicians, a strategy that helped turn opioids into a multi-billion dollar per year industry.

Investigations into how the contributions pharmaceutical companies made influenced the creation and perpetuation of the opioid epidemic is currently underway throughout the United States, but the responsibility goes beyond just the marketing arms of these companies – it also rests on the shoulders of the doctors who prescribed these highly addictive drugs to their patients.

Robert Klitzman, Columbia University’s Masters of Bioethics Program director, professor of psychiatry, and author recently published an article on CNN that looked into the responsibility of doctors to do their part in preventing the spread of the opioid epidemic.

“Pharmaceutical companies used to give medical schools millions of dollars for free continuing medical education on particular drugs,” Klitzman wrote. “But many schools have since instituted policies of "zero tolerance" for these company's gifts, letting these corporations now donate money only to unrestricted funds, without abilities to discuss particular drugs. In response, these companies have essentially stopped giving these institutions educational funds.”

The prescription rate of opiates quintupled between 1999 and 2016, along with the number of deaths caused by opiate overdoses. More than two million people became addicted to these drugs, and the epidemic shows no signs of slowing down. Doctors have a duty to protect and treat their patients, and their impact on the growth of the opioid crisis cannot be overlooked.

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