Data shows that an estimated ten times as many Americans as Germans died as a result of opioid drug use in 2016. While it is true that U.S. doctors prescribe more pain pills (primarily oxycodone and hydrocodone) than their German counterparts, experts say that the U.S. epidemic boils down to more than over-prescribing.
According to an article in Reason Magazine, the spike in American opioid overdose deaths seems to be attributed not just to a general increase in the rate of misuse, but by the rise in “reckless consumption,” including dangerous drug mixes, and lethal doses.
But even as rates of addiction have skyrocketed in the States, Germany has maintained stable levels, helping the country avoid the same type of crisis. In 2016, a mere .2% of the German population reported opiate addiction, while .6% of the U.S. population experienced full-blown opioid dependence, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Germany’s health care system emphasizes primary care
In 2016, twenty-one per one million Germans died from drug overdoses, the majority of which could be linked to opioids obtained from both legal and illegal sources. In the U.S., close to 200 million opioid-overdose fatalities were logged.
What is Germany doing differently than the U.S.? Some experts suggest it is the German health system, which places a heavy focus on low-cost primary health care. As a result, patients who are prescribed opioid analgesics are more inclined to follow-up on physician appointments, and signs of possible addiction are caught sooner. Those who do become addicted to pain killers may be more inclined to seek treatment without worrying about the cost.
The government also embraces “harm-reduction” strategies. For example, Germany has more than 20 safe-injection sites where people can access clean needles and receive medical supervision. There are also emergency protocols in place to help prevent users from overdosing. All factors considered, Germany’s drug overdose rate has remained much the same over the last century while the U.S. continues to climb. Today, the United States leads the developed world in per capita opioid-related fatalities.
Opioid litigation continues to mount
Recent research suggests that high rates of pain pill prescriptions are not the sole cause of opioid overdose deaths. So, who is to blame for America’s ongoing epidemic? Thousands who have been affected by opioid addiction, or lost a loved one from an overdose, blame the opioid manufacturers themselves as having misrepresented the addictive risks of the medications. Others say it’s the fault of doctors who prescribed the pills in large quantities and doses, with little regard to patient safety or outcome.
State Attorneys General and government agencies have filed lawsuits, and last April, Purdue Pharma agreed to a $270 million opioid lawsuit settlement rather than defend a trial on charges of misleading marketing of Oxycontin in the state of Oklahoma.
Fight back with Showard Law Firm
If you or a loved one has been adversely affected by prescription painkillers, you may have grounds to file an opioid lawsuit. Contact Showard Law Firm for a free case evaluation to learn more about your rights to compensation.