More than 1.2 million people could die from overdoses in North America by 2029 unless governments establish policies that treat addiction as a chronic condition, according to a new report.
The report states that if no action is taken, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses could be twice as high by the end of this decade as they have been over the past 20 years, according to UPI.
The pandemic has worsened the opioid epidemic by limiting access to care, overwhelming health systems and adding to stressors that can lead to addiction, such as unemployment, disability and loss of loved ones, the report stated.
The report, by the Stanford-Lancet Commission on the North American Opioid Crisis, found nearly 600,000 people in the United States and Canada have died from an opioid overdose since 1999.
“To ensure safeguards are in place to curb the opioid addiction epidemic and prevent future ones involving other addictive drugs, we must end the pharmaceutical and health care industry’s undue influence on the government and its unregulated push for opioid use. This includes insulating the medical community from pharmaceutical company influence and closing the constantly revolving door between regulators and industry,” Commission author Professor Howard Koh of Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health said in a news release.