More than two million Americans are addicted to prescription opioid medications. Some of these people receive treatment at inpatient or outpatient health centers. One of the most common pharmaceutical treatments for opioid addiction is buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone and Subutex.

A recent study released by Johns Hopkins University suggests 43 percent of patients receiving buprenorphine fill at least one prescription for opioids while undergoing treatment. Another 67 percent filled an opioid prescription after being treated with buprenorphine.

The Johns Hopkins study suggests that many doctors are not using Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. These programs are designed to keep track of patients with prescriptions for addictive drugs. Substance abuse disorders should be present in the patient histories of people receiving buprenorphine. Doctors should have access to this information so they do not prescribe opioid medications to addicts. Despite efforts by many states to curb the prescribing of opioid medications, it appears these drugs are still easy to procure from doctors. The Johns Hopkins study suggests improvements should be made to policies and systems designed to reduce rates of prescription opioid addiction.

Can We Reduce Rates of Addiction to Prescription Opioid Medications?

Lawmakers continue to develop policies for battling America’s opioid crisis. These policies seek to treat existing cases of opioid addiction and to prevent new cases. However, policies aimed at reducing rates of addiction are doomed for failure if doctors continue to overprescribe opioid medications.

There is no cure for addiction. It is possible to manage a chronic relapsing brain disease, but no permanent cure exists. People who are addicted may be at risk for relapsing for the rest of their lives. The medical community and policymakers need to understand this reality and react accordingly.

Although we need to make improvements to how we reduce rates of opioid addiction, we should also seek to hold those responsible for this health crisis accountable. Drug companies that fueled the opioid crisis must accept responsibility for the damage they have caused to the lives of millions of Americans. As the sales of these drugs increased, so did the rates of admissions to treatment centers and overdoses.

Individuals and families harmed by the actions of these drug companies should reach out to one of our New Jersey personal injury attorneys. There may be legal options available that can hold these companies accountable for their actions.