Australia seems to be going down the same dangerous path that the US paved: its opioid prescriptions have nearly quadrupled between 1990 and 2014, and fatal overdoses have doubled.
“Unfortunately, in Australia, we’ve followed the bad example of the U.S., and now we have the same problem,” says Dr. Bastian Seidel, former president of the the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
The Australian opioid crisis is largely accredited to pharmaceutical companies’ intense marketing efforts to medical professionals — companies would woo doctors with seminars, research funding and lavish conferences, all in an attempt to get them to promote and prescribe opioids to their patients.
Similar to the US, the Australian opioid crisis has hit the poorest parts of the country the hardest. In one low-income area of Australia, there are 110,000 opioid prescriptions for every 100,000 people.
Efforts to stop the crisis include nationwide restrictions on certain opioids like fentanyl, and there’s growing support for a nationwide prescription tracking system that could stop Australians from visiting multiple doctors to obtain more opioids in a short period of time. But some wonder if it’s too little, too late.
Read more at AP News.
Image courtesy of AP Photo.