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Although more than half of Americans misuse prescription drugs, the percentage that did so has held steady for four consecutive years, according to a new analysis. Meanwhile, though, there has also been a surge in the use of illicit drugs and medicines obtained without a prescription among patients being treated for substance use disorders.

The overall rate at which drugs were misused was 52 percent last year, according to an analysis of approximately 3.9 million laboratory test results that were stripped of identifying patient information. The so-called misuse rate has barely budged since 2014, but marks a notable decline from the 63 percent rate found in 2011, according to Quest Diagnostics (DGX), the laboratory testing company, which conducted the analysis.


As the company does each year, Quest sifted through laboratory test results for what it called inconsistencies, which were defined as a patient taking a medicine with other drugs for which they do not have a prescription, a prescription drug that was not taken as expected, or patients who skipped doses.

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  • Nowhere does this article or the C.D.C define Misuse. Random pharmaceuticals were given to people who were already addicted to heroin or other drugs. Pharma companies marketed their products as beneficial even though there was no evidence to support their claims. When these people already dependent on an illicit drug were then seen “overdosing” or abusing the recommended prescribed pharma products which did not relieve the symptoms or treat their drug dependence, these people were added to the numbers of overdoses and misuse. No effort to track any of this was done, even though there were a lot of deaths. Fact based research was not done, it would have interfered with pharma profits. The Opioid debacle was turned into a marketing campaign.

    People with chronic pain are regularly forced to try alternatives, meaning the Pharma Industry marketed drugs that showed little or no effect on chronic pain, as a replacement for opiates. They marketed anti depressants, drugs like Gabapentin, and even anti psychotics, that had no effect on pain. They count the patients lack of relief, side effects , or even the cost, as misuse. Deliberately conflating Misuse with Addiction for a reason. Even discontinuing a pharmaceutical is counted as misuse.

    • Hi Mavis,
      Thanks for your note.
      There is a link in the post to the Quest report, which includes this:

      “For clinicians, drug monitoring can provide insights into possible forms of misuse including: substance use disorders, dangerous drug combinations, incomplete treatment, and/or “diversion” – instances where the
      prescribed drug is not found in the patient’s specimen, suggesting the patient is possibly filling the prescription, but may be diverting the drug to others or opted not to take it.”

      Perhaps that helps somewhat.
      ed at pharmalot

  • Sentinel cannot live up to its promise and interchangeable EHR’s are a forlorn hope (to date) but Quest can simply study the real population, drawing conclusions from what data sources (where are those firewalls?), and we accept it. “How bizarre!”

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