Dr Karen Mack of CDC led off this morning’s discussion of opioids with a review of the opioid crisis and provided a lot of data on death rates, usage trends, and mortality trends. Pretty scary stuff.
The most compelling slide shows a strong correlation between opioid sales and overdose death trend rates which, if not parallel, are certainly quite similar. Encoouragingly, the rate of treatment has actually accelerated over the last few years at a rate that is much higher than opioid usage trends.
Here are a couple takeaways.
First, I was surprised that there were multiple “ooohs’ from the audience when Dr Mack presented info that I would have thought we all knew – e.g. currently there are enough opioids sold in the US to keep every one of us doped up for a month. Ok, I know I’ve been up to my eyeballs in this issue for several years, and others haven’t spent the time on this that we research nerds do.
But. Come on folks! This should NOT be a surprise. The issue has been front-page news in most newspapers, featured on many news broadcasts, discussed by politicians, media, celebrities, not to mention the issue is so pervasive it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know someone else who’s been directly harmed by opioids.
This is the single biggest issue in workers comp. Kudos to WCRi for dedicating most of day two to the issue.
Now let’s stop talking about the problem and get moving on solutions.