One of the largest markets in the US is cornered by huge pharmaceutical corporations who are constantly trying to come up with new, and “innovative” ways to expand and increase profits.
I can only imagine a big round table, with highly educated people, having a meeting that starts with the CEO of a big pharmaceutical company asking, “Who has the next big idea to increase stock price and keep our investors happy?” I imagine this question has been asked multiple times in the past resulting in ideas like pushing opiates for pain or running ads to convince millions they suffer from depression/anxiety or that every kid who sees a doctor has ADD or ADHD and Concerta, Ritalin or Adderall is the solution. Today, when I see big pharma coming out with candy flavored drugs, or OxyContin made for children as young as eleven years old, I can’t help but think someone at that big round table decided prescribing young kids highly addictive drugs would lead to a life-long customer—even if that life was a short one.
Now before some of you get in an uproar and tell me “I need my opiates to live”, “Without my anti- anxiety/depression medication I can’t get out of bed”, “Weed is just a plant” or “My kid really does have bad ADD/ADHD”, I want to acknowledge you. The point I want to focus on is that right now highly addictive medications are being targeted towards children, and most of these kids and parents have no idea the drugs they’ve been prescribed could potentially lead to a life of continuous drug abuse, turmoil and possibly an early grave.
In 2015, the FDA approved extended release OxyContin for children between the ages of 11-16. Previously, it was only prescribed off-label in the pediatric setting, even though the practice was common and generally accepted. Big pharma says that although the potential risks of increased opioid addiction, and abuse among youth are a legitimate concern, they are outweighed by the tangible benefits of the new pediatric safety and dosing instructions. Some of the more common concerns from parents, and doctors alike are that there are no long-term studies on the effects opiates have on children, and what studies they do have suggest that children might be more susceptible to becoming addicted than adults.
When someone becomes addicted to opiates, most doctors will be quick to prescribe that person Suboxone, or Subutex. Don’t be fooled since big pharma has made them orange flavored, and, most recently, mint flavored so your kid will think it’s candy! These drugs are addictive and can most certainly be abused.
It’s a commonly known fact that big tobacco companies also target children, so please do not think they are the only unethical corporation that would stop at nothing to increase profits. Again, if you take medication that you absolutely need—then relax. But I work at a rehabilitation treatment center, and you wouldn’t believe how many people become addicted to drugs because they were prescribed something, they had no business being prescribed. Be aware, and if you or a loved one ever gets to a point where drugs or alcohol become a problem, call us for help.
McCarthy M. Prescription drug abuse up sharply in the USA. Lancet. 2007;369(9572):1505–1506