More Americans now die of overdoses than died of AIDS at the peak of that epidemic.
@nytopinion: More Americans now die of overdoses than died of AIDS at the peak of that epidemic
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A typical opioid overdose involves pills that a doctor prescribed legally but that someone other than the intended patient ingested.
This pattern is a sign that doctors often prescribe too many pills at once. After surgery, for example, many patients use only a small portion of the painkillers prescribed — and the remainder become available for a relative or friend who’s addicted to painkillers to abuse.
Here’s how bad the opioid crisis has become: More Americans now die of overdoses than died of AIDS at the peak of that epidemic, as Atul Gawande writes in a special report published by the Annals of Surgery, a medical journal. The journal’s report points to several common-sense solutions, such as smaller prescription amounts and easier refills for patients who really need painkillers.
If you don’t generally enjoy reading medical journals, I sympathize, and suggest you read the short, easily understandable introduction to the opioid report from Gawande, the surgeon and New Yorker writer.
I also recommend an Op-Ed in The Times today by J.D. Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” one of the most talked-about books of the past year. Vance describes his decision to move back home to Ohio, where he is starting an organization to fight the opioid crisis. (Given Vance’s prominence and interest in policy, I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually ran for office.)
Because it’s hard to talk about almost any medical issue without talking about Trumpcare, I also recommend Doyle McManus’s explanation, in The Los Angeles Times, of how the Republican health bill would hamper treatment of opioid addiction.
More broadly on Trumpcare: Margot Sanger-Katz debunks the idea that it reduces the cost of medical care, while Sarah Kliff and Ezra Klein lay out the past, present and future of the American health care system in a brisk 6,000 words.