The Opioid Crisis Could Eliminate an Important Source of Prescription Meds


Both state and federal governments are looking for solutions to the opioid crisis that is claiming tens of thousands of lives in America every year. Lawmakers are struggling to come up with real solutions to the issue, but they are chock-full of ideas that will only make the problem worse, in addition to making life more difficult for pain patients.

One of the recent scapegoats for the opioid crisis is the online sale of opioid prescriptions. In a BBC article titled "Opioid addiction and death mail-ordered to your door," the author discussed how opioid prescriptions allegedly prompted the start of the addiction crisis, and then reported on a proposal that would add restrictions and tighter regulation on shipment of opioid prescription drugs.

Sound like a good idea? On the surface, yes. But the heart of the issue does not lie with the Postal Service, as healthcare policy expert Roger Bate explains.

It is true that criminals use the postal service, but that is no reason to prevent USP from operating.

This issue strikes me as being a bit like the arguments about gun control. Most of my Facebook feed (alongside many media articles) is focused on controlling the sale of guns. The more simplistic imply that if you control the sales of guns you’ll resolve school shooting. It probably makes sense to limit sales of machine guns and other incredibly lethal weapons (you might limit the number of deaths in school shootings as a result but not the acts themselves). But really resolving school shootings is so much more complex, potentially involving the invasive use of big data.

Attacking the sale of opioid drugs online might have some effect on the opioid trade, but will it really address the underlying problems? Band-aid solutions such as this are not going to solve the issue, but they most certainly can and will make things more difficult for those who rely on cheap medicine that the Internet offers.

Once again, the unintended consequences of a facially benevolent idea can bring about more harm in the long-run.