MONROEVILLE, Pa. (AP) – The U.S. opioid epidemic began in doctors’ offices as drug companies marketed the pills to an ever-widening circle of patients. An estimated 2 million Americans are now addicted to opioid pain relievers and nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve prescription drugs.
Experts believe stopping the epidemic requires returning to doctors’ offices and flipping the script on drug marketing tactics.
In Pennsylvania, Melissa Jones visits doctors to promote safer opioid prescribing. Her visits are funded by state lottery dollars, and are part of a program run by the Boston-based nonprofit organization Alosa Health. Jones and her colleagues visit 2,600 Pennsylvania doctors a year to talk about opioids and other issues.
Evidence suggests efforts like this can reduce opioid prescribing. The goal is fewer deaths, but it may take years.