Prescription drugs: Opioid drugs and rise in drug prices as research topics

There are a lot of term paper topics on prescription drugs. You can write your research paper on the rise of prescription drug abuse and oxycodone addiction.

Learn more about the rising cost of prescription drugs here. (Credit: Buffalo Healthy Living)

Learn more about the rising cost of prescription drugs here. (Credit: Buffalo Healthy Living)

Other good research topics are the rise in drug prices, often hundreds of percent, and their consequences.

Rise in opioid addiction

A timely topic on prescription drugs is the devastating opioid addiction crisis. The prescribing and sales of opioid-based pain killers has quadrupled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The National Survey on Drug Use found that 119 Americans (or 45% of the U.S. population) take prescription painkillers, tranquilizers, stimulants or sedatives; and 16% of prescription drug use was misused. More than 40 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses.

In a presentation to the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Nora D. Volkow, MD, of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said that 2.1 million Americans suffer from disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers. The United States is the world’s biggest consumer of prescription opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone.

“Several factors are likely to have contributed to the severity of the current prescription drug abuse problem. They include drastic increases in the number of prescriptions written and dispensed, greater social acceptability for using medications for different purposes, and aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies,” said Volkow in “American’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse” at the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Response to drug abuse

You can write your term paper on various responses to the prescription drug abuse problem. One response is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.” The guidelines offer advice to health care providers when prescribing opioids. The guidelines suggest use of non-opioid pain relievers, when to start patients on opioids, whether to continue patients on opioids, using lower doses of opioids, and monitoring patients on opioids.

“For two decades, providers have been encouraged to treat chronic pain with opioids, often without enough training or support,” said Debra Houry, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, in “National Pain Strategy, CDC Opioid Prescribing Guide Help Providers,” by Lindsey Wahowiak in The National’s Health July 2016. “With an under-recognition of the risks of opioids and limited evidence of benefits of their long-term use for chronic pain, many providers have expressed growing concerns about prescription opioid misuse and patient addiction,” said Houry.

Increase in EpiPen prices

Another topic on prescription drugs is the hundreds of percent price increases drug companies are charging for essential, life-saving drugs. One example is Mylan Pharmaceutical, which has raised the prices of 24 of its products more than 20%, and 100% on seven products. One product is the allergy medication EpiPen, which provides epinephrine to people suffering serious anaphylaxis. Since acquiring Merck KGaA in 2007 and the rights to sell its EpiPen product, Mylan has raised the price of the medication from $56 per dose to $317, an increase of 461%. Over the same nine years, the salary of Mylan CEO Heather Bresch has increased 671%. EpiPen is often used in schools for children suffering from allergies.

Although some lawmakers have decried the price hike, Citigroup analysts Liav Abraham and Eugene Kim said there is “little regulatory action that can be implemented to compel Mylan to lower the price of EpiPen,” wrote Jana Kasperkevic and Amanda Holpuch in “EpiPen CEO hiked prices on two dozen products and got a 671% pay raise,” in The Guardian, August 24, 2016. Nevertheless, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman has launched an investigation into Mylan. The company’s sales contract with local school systems for EpiPen supplies may have included potentially anti-competitive terms and violated anti-trust laws, according to Schneiderman.

For more information, check out Questia’s library on Prescription Drugs.

What’s your opinion of rising drug costs? Let us know what changes you think should be done to combat the rising costs in the comments.

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