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Will the 2 BILLION-dollar opioid industry even feel a dent from the CDC's new guidelines?

Big Pharma

(NaturalNews) The federal government has finally taken some action against Big Medicine that was long overdue, and only after tens of thousands of lives were lost – and billions of dollars were made by Big Pharma.

You may have heard in recent days that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidelines to doctors for the prescribing of dangerously habit-forming opioid-based painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet. The guidelines – which do not contain any options for doctors to suggest natural painkillers for their patients – are meant to curb the over-prescribing of opioids, long considered an epidemic by official standards.

As reported by NBC News:

The short take on the CDC guidelines:

-- Don't use opioids first. Try other methods such as Tylenol, ibuprofen or ice.

-- Talk to the patient about what they can expect. 100 percent pain-free may not be realistic or desirable.

-- Make sure the patient knows the risks.

-- Never start with the long-acting opiates and use the lowest possible dose.

Greed, indifference and an industry on autopilot

These dangerous drugs killed some 47,000 people in 2014 (prescription drugs and non-prescription overdoses, including the use of heroin), NBC News added in a separate story.

But settling on the recommendations and guidelines was far from an easy task, as The New York Times reported:

The release of the new guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ends months of arguments with pain doctors and drug industry groups, which had bitterly opposed the recommendations on the grounds that they would create unfair hurdles for patients who legitimately have long-term pain. [Emphasis added]

In the end, the agency softened the recommendations slightly, but basically held its ground, a testament to how alarmed policy makers have become over the mounting overdoses and deaths from opioid addiction.

But make no mistake, these guidelines were vehemently opposed by Big Pharma. As further noted by The Times, based on findings by IMS Health, a research firm that collects prescribing data, opioid-based medications are the most prescribed of all medications, and they account for sales of nearly $2 billion annually.

Then again, will the industry even feel that? In December, The Motley Fool reported that, "there are few expenses rising faster for Americans than the cost of prescription drugs."

According to actuarial and consulting firm Milliman, prescription drug costs rose by more than 13 percent last year, the fastest rate of inflation in more than eight years (and after the passage of Obamacare, by the way, which backers – especially the president – promised would lower healthcare and prescription drug costs). That figure is far above the rate of wage growth for most U.S. workers.

A couple billion: A drop in the ocean?

The Motley Fool, citing data from Express Scripts, the nation's largest pharmacy benefits manager, reports that the average American spends $1,370 a year on prescription medications (the site also reported that Americans consume more prescription drugs than citizens of any other nation).

"Express Scripts also finds that more than a half million Americans spent in excess of $50,000 on prescription medicine in 2014, and more than 100,000 people's prescription drug spending surpassed $100,000," the site reported.

What's more, even if you're not spending much personally on prescription medication because you're healthy, stay fit and prefer naturopathic medicine, you're paying quite a bit for prescriptions anyway, via your taxes. The U.S. government, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, spent $297.7 billion on prescription medications in 2014, the most recent year data available (and this doesn't include what the Pentagon spent on prescriptions for members of the military and their families).

So, maybe Big Pharma won't miss a couple billion dollars after all, but you can bet the industry didn't just accept it, either.






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