Psychotropic drugs are being prescribed to retirement-age patients at twice the rate they were only a few years ago, in spite of the fact that more than half of these patients haven’t been diagnosed with a mental health issue. Possible over-prescriptions include Ambien, OxyContin, Valium and Prozac, but the real problem isn’t the stand-alone drug. It’s actually an issue of increased polypharmacy—taking 3 or more drugs simultaneously—and the potential interactions that can come from it, which are especially harmful to elderly people. Geography is a big factor in polypharmacy, with the greatest increase in rural areas where other treatment options (talk therapy, stress management) are often limited. Old men everywhere want these drugs off their lawn!
The city of Chicago is getting even more serious about snuffing out an epidemic that has claimed the lives of hundreds of Chicagoans so far. In a continued effort to stem opioid addiction, the city may soon require pharmaceutical sales reps to carry special licenses in order to pitch medications. “Oh just a piece of plastic to flash around, not a big deal!” the young unsuspecting sales rep might muse. Um, no. License requirements call for representatives to report back to the city on several measures including how many doctors they contact and whether these doctors receive payout. Patients and doctors can also report unethical behavior. Add this to Chicago’s record of opioid crackdowns, which includes a lawsuit filed against several drug makers’ misleading opioid marketing in June of 2014.