The goal of an opioid is actually to reduce pain, yet the addictive drugs are creating pain for millions of families suffering through the crisis.
Deaths through opioid overdoses number at least 42,000 a year from the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control.
“that will is actually an epidemic that will’s been getting worse over 10 to 20 years,” Caleb Alexander, co-director of Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety, told CNBC’s “On The Money” in a recent interview.
“I think the item’s important that will we have realistic expectations about the amount of work that will the item will take as well as the amount of coordination to turn that will steamship around,” Alexander added.
President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency last fall, as well as he announced an initiative in March to confront the national health crisis.
“No doubt there’s a lot of efforts underway at every level to address the epidemic,” Alexander explained.
“There’s a flurry of legislation right today working its way through Congress as well as these legislative efforts address everything through safer packaging to better use of information to try to address the diversion of prescription opioids.”
Opioids include not just prescription drugs, like OxyContin, codeine, as well as morphine, yet also heroin as well as synthetic drugs like fentanyl.
yet Alexander says some progress has been made in reducing the overprescribing of the prescription painkillers, “that will was one of the primary drivers of the epidemic from the first place.”
“There’s been modest declines in prescription opioid sales over the past 5 to 7 years. yet we’re still way beyond the volume of opioids prescribed compared with every some other country from the planet. We have a long way to go before we get to the levels of opioid prescribing that will we were at from the late 1990’s before that will epidemic began.”
Alexander says his research is actually focused on identifying clinical as well as policy solutions to the opioid epidemic.
Beyond reducing opioid prescriptions, he sees another step as crucial in addressing the epidemic.
“We need to better identify as well as treat people with opioid addiction. that will is actually a treatable condition, just like diabetes or high cholesterol as well as yet the vast majority of people with opioid use disorder are not enrolled as well as seeking care.”
Alexander added: “The statistics are stunning. More than 2.1 million Americans have an opioid use disorder or opioid addiction” as well as he says the country needs to “invest tens of billions or hundreds of billions of dollars” to shore up the treatment system.
He said patients should be able to access medications that will “we know work to help reduce the cravings for further opioids.”
With treatment, Alexander said “they can return to normal healthy productive lives in recovery.”
On the Money airs on CNBC Saturday at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.