By Marcia Moore
The nation’s deadly opioid crisis has been allowed to flourish due to the failings of a number of entities, says a Geisinger Health System addiction specialist.
“This is bigger than just the FDA,” said Dr. Margaret Jarvis, medical director of Geisinger’s residential addiction treatment center, referring to a Raycom InvestigateTV report that the Food and Drug Administration was lax in overseeing how opioids have been prescribed.
As a result of alleged poor oversight by the federal agency FDA which for years allowed the drugmakers to enforce the protocols of the safety program, the report said, a majority of patients prescribed power fentanyl drugs should not have received them and died as a result.
“I really don’t know how Big Pharma got involved in a program meant to control Big Pharma,” said Bill Renton, a former agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 46 people died daily from an opioid overdose in 2016 and the deaths continue.
“Because people are dying left to right, there’s a desire to find ready and easy solutions,” said Jarvis.
“This is bigger than just the FDA. It’s a mission for the Drug Enforcement Administration, state medical boards… It’s our entire medical delivery system (and) a societal issue.”
Systematic changes and a more coordinated and well-funded response to the problem will need to happen before the tide changes in the epidemic that Jarvis compares to AIDs.
Similar the stigma people with AIDs faced, addicts are stigmatized and often marginalized in society so finding solutions to end the crisis have been slow.
“It’s been easy for organized medicine, the legislature and society to ignore it,” said Jarvis who advocates for people affected by addiction to organize and speak out. “People have to get active.”