Doctor: Drug manufacturers just part of opioid problem - WNEM TV 5

Doctor: Drug manufacturers just part of opioid problem

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Despite warnings, community meetings and stepped up enforcement, opioid addiction continues to be a major problem for families in Mid-Michigan.

The Genesee County Board of Commissioners are going after opioid manufacturers and distributors who are saturating neighborhoods with drugs.

One local doctor said drug manufacturers are just a piece of the problem.

"Not only is this a problem that's growing, it's a problem that has no end in sight in the next three to five years," said Dr. William Marrone, medical director for Recovery Pathways.

Marrone deals with pain management and addiction on a daily basis. He projects by the end of the year 2020, more than 120,000 people will die from an opioid overdose death.

It is a problem, but he said there are systemic factors that have led Mid-Michigan to this point.

"We can't just blame the drug companies because the drug companies didn't hold a gun to patients' heads and doctors' heads to get them to start," Marrone said.

Marrone said the problem begins in the classroom with universities across Michigan doing a poor job of teaching students ways to manage and treat pain, other than with more drugs.

"Universities, the medical schools hire people to teach subjects that will be on the national board exams. So part of that problem is they're not asking pain and addiction problems," Marrone said.

Next comes the insurance companies.

"They would rather give you a prescription for narco or morphine than send you for eight weeks of physical therapy because it's easier and faster," Marrone said.

Marrone said the lawsuit in Genesee County is just scratching the surface.

"What Genesee County also needs to do is go back and look at their primary care providers and see who has been inefficient and led these patients down this path. And if Genesee County doesn't have the adequate addiction support in place to deal with a lot of people they'll try to get the money from the drug companies," Marrone said.

Marrone also said a big problem is the federal guidelines are written by regulators, not doctors, with close knowledge of addiction and pain.

He said for now he doesn't see the overdose deaths slowing down any time soon.

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