By Chuck Dinerstein — July 9, 2019
Pop quiz! What is the cause of our opioid epidemic?
A. Doctors prescribe too many opioids.
B. The government insisted doctors control pain better
C. Big Pharma created addictive drugs and lied to us
D. Free trade policy
Pencils down, time is up. While variations in the first three responses all may have some culpability, how many of you put down that last choice? A new study in Population Health suggests that our free trade policy did play a role.
Let’s first address how opioid overdoses and free trade may be related. Free trade shifts the manufacture of goods to the cheapest supplier, the Dollar Store, Walmart, and Amazon are built upon that economic principle. But for the country that cannot compete on price, and that would be us in many instances, trade-related job loss closes factories, eliminates middle-class jobs, and as it turns out disproportionately impacts those regions on the US most burdened by opioids’ disruption. The displaced workers, often less-educated, have only short term unemployment benefits for what has become a long term problem. There is also evidence that one way to make ends meet, is to apply for disability benefits; benefits that require a medical examination and are associated with a greater likelihood of being prescribed opioids...........To Read More...