The other tragedy behind Prince’s death


Story highlights

Chris Johnson says opioid addiction is rampant in U.S. Why?

He says to grow market, pharmaceutical companies began pressing doctors to prescribe opioids for chronic pain

Johnson: Doctors, medical industry needs to focus more on 'patient outcome,' not 'patient experience'

Editor’s Note: Chris Johnson is an emergency medicine physician who practices in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. He is chair of the Minnesota Department of Human Services Opioid Prescribing Work Group and serves on the Board of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, as well as the Board of the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

CNN —  

So the recent report from the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office made it official – Prince Rogers Nelson died in his residence April 21, 2016, from an accidental overdose of the prescribed opioid, fentanyl. He was 57.

In the aftermath of the death of such an iconic figure we are experiencing a flurry of political activity as our elected leaders, both Republican and Democrat, hurry to pass some form of legislation that will help stem the tide of opioid-related death that claimed the lives of some 165,000 Americans from 2000-2014.

Most of the proposals debated last week in Washington – including the compromise package the House approved Friday – aim at improving access to treatment for those who are already addicted.

Medications such as Suboxone (buprenorphine) are proven effective in helping those who are addicted to opioids avoid relapse. Narcan, the opiate reversal agent, can save the life of someone who is acutely overdosing and needs to be in the hands of first responders everywhere.

Improving affordability and access to these and other proven treatments is a must and I am in full support of those measures.

But that alone will not stop this epidemic nor turn back this tide of misery.