Abuse of opioids is a national epidemic, and California is no exception.

CALmatters columnist Dan Walters writes in his Oct. 15 column:

“Last year, California doctors and dentists wrote 23.7 million prescriptions for opioids, supposedly to relieve their patients’ pain, but overprescription, misuse by patients and/or backchannel diversion of the drugs are rampant, and California recorded 1,966 opioid-related deaths last year, 44 percent more than its gun-related homicides.

Walters also notes that when “Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 715 last week, he closed the book on even token legislative efforts to confront California’s epidemic of opioid abuse.”

Walters goes on: “Last year, the Medical Board of California, which licenses physicians, published a first-person account of overprescription in its newsletter, written by a doctor’s wife.

“The anonymous author described how physicians and dentists  repeatedly wrote prescriptions for Vicodin for her family, even for relatively minor pains.”

Concludes Walters, “The key to curbing the epidemic is to curb the eagerness of too many medical providers to write too many prescriptions without fully weighing the consequences.

“They should face consequences themselves for contributing to the epidemic.”

There’s little chance of that happening in California, where Big Pharma’s campaign contributions give it super-sized influence over the Legislature.

You can read Walters’ column here.


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