The new guidelines put in place in the United States to fight against opioid addiction penalize patients who really need it and have no other alternative.
As France and the US face more and more opioid overdoses, the Trump government has issued new recommendations for health professionals to correct the situation. Problem: patients who suffer from severe chronic pain are deprived of their drugs, insurers relying on these guidelines to no longer pay them back.
"Draconian and often rapid reductions in their dose of medicine"
More than 300 medical experts say that the Trump administration is hurting this small number of vulnerable patients, whose return of pain and the deterioration of the quality of life push some to suicide. "Many doctors and regulators mistakenly believe that a daily threshold limit has been set, and clinicians prescribing higher doses, the pharmacists who sell them, and the patients who take them have become suspect," they say. in an open letter.
"Patients with chronic pain, who have been stable and have been taking opioids for a long time, are facing drastic and often rapid reductions in their dose of medication, without any alternative being offered. detoxification programs, or invasive procedures (such as vertebral injections), whether clinically appropriate or not, "the signatories continue.
At least 4 deaths a week
Between 2006 and 2017, the prescription of strong opioids increased by about 150% in France (oxycodone is the largest increase). As a result, the number of hospitalizations linked to the consumption of opioid analgesics obtained by prescription increased by 167% between 2000 and 2017, from 15 to 40 hospitalizations per 1 million inhabitants. The number of deaths related to opioid use increased by 146% between 2000 and 2015, with at least 4 deaths per week. A problem straight from the United States, where 64,000 Americans died in 2017 by opiate overdose, which is one of the main causes of the decline in life expectancy in recent years.
"There are a number of signals that encourage us to be very vigilant," notes Nathalie Richard, deputy director of pain and narcotics drugs at the Agence du Médicale (ANSM). "The situation is, however, no match for the health catastrophe in the United States and Canada, because France has better safeguards to regulate the prescription of this type of drugs," she adds. . In July, Health Minister Agnès Buzyn withdrew from free sale drugs based on codeine, following the death of two adolescents overdose.