A Round-Up on the Opioid Epidemic
The growing awareness of the toll opioid consumption is taking on the US population had a substantial boost last week with accusations of failure to address the public health problem coming from within the FDA. The head of the agency's opioid advisory committee stated it had failed to learn its lessons and keeps approving strong opioid painkillers, thus putting the interests of big pharma ahead of public health. In the meantime, concern comes from every side of public life: from the Senate, who sent a letter to the FDA’s commissioner showing atonement towards the fact they keep approving new medication, to Walgreen's board of investors, who required the company to show how it's monitoring and managing risks related to the opioid crisis. The world is starting to acknowledge how big a problem we have between our hands.
The most recent CDC report stated that 18% of the general population reports illicit drug use or prescription drug misuse somewhere in the past year. Add to this a baffling recent update from the National Safety Council showing that people are now more likely to die from a drug overdose than in a car accident. With 4.3% of the general population being prescribed opioids and a 33% addiction rate associated with them, this easily ends up translating into 130 people dying from overdoses in the US every day. Furthermore, if we assume that the most regular users of prescribed opioids are people with arthritis and back pain (63% of prescribed opioids users report the first and 59% report the latter) and add to that the recent studies showing that physical therapy combined with behavioral intervention can substitute opioid intake in many cases, it becomes very apparent that physical therapy plays a very relevant role in tackling the opioid epidemic.
Finding new solutions is crucial
Expert entities including the American College of Physicians are advocating for exercise programs and patient education as a first-line treatment option for chronic muscle and joint pain. At SWORD Health, we have conducted clinical studies that demonstrated our novel MSK care intervention can reduce pain levels by 33% in just four weeks, all the while keeping people away from prescription opioids. We know that addressing this problem requires a multifold approach that comprises local, immediate action as much as systematic prevention. By creating cost-effective digital physical therapy at home and combining it with behavioral intervention and continuous education, we are helping people stay away from opioids in the very first place. If you need more information about SWORD Health or need help in making this change happen in your workforce or your population, our team is here to help.
About SWORD Health: SWORD Health is a tech-enabled musculoskeletal (MSK) care provider. We pair licensed physical therapists with innovative technology to help people overcome their chronic and post-surgical pain faster and more cost-effectively. We’re on a mission to reduce U.S. healthcare costs by $70B by making it simple for people to recover at home, without resorting to imaging, surgeries or opioids.