The Challenge of Regulating Prescription Opioids

Research Assistant Professor Herschel Nachlis writes about the difficulty of regulating prescription opioids for the Washington Post. 

"This past week, President Trump argued on national television that to end the opioid epidemic, Congress needed to fund the building of a wall at the United States’ southern border. What he didn’t discuss was the fact that most opioid abuse and addiction begins with legal medicationssuch as OxyContin and Vicodin. And regulating those prescriptions is complicated.

New data shows that the mass killers in the U.S. opioid epidemic are heroin and fentanyl, powerful substances that were involved in nearly 50,000 overdose deaths in 2017. Beyond these deaths, 12.5 million Americans abused prescription opioids, according to recent yearly data, and the estimated 2 million people addicted accounted for untold damage to individuals, families and communities.

Opioids are widely prescribed. From 2010 to 2017, pharmacies filled nearly 1.9 billion opioid prescriptionsMany argue that regulating these drugs would be a sensible policymaking step.

But the federal government has a hard time more strongly regulating addictive and abused pharmaceuticals more strongly. This is why."

Read more here.