As everyone knows, we are in the midst of a horrific opioid addiction epidemic. Physicians are prescribing opiates for pain relief, and patients are becoming addicted to them. One-fifth of patients who receive an initial 10-day prescription for opioids will still be using opiates a year later. That is simply extraordinary.
Physicians are prescribing opiate formulations that are highly addictive. But they do not need to do that.
There are several newer formulations that relieve pain and are far less addictive than older agents. But they are prescribed uncommonly. Why is that?
It is not because physicians are uninformed.
It is because payers will not pay for the alternatives. The less-addictive opiates are more expensive, so payers have declined to support them. Patients get addicted because paying for highly addictive opiates saves the payers money.