Opioids: A Painful Prescription?

Did marketing help fuel the UK's opioid addiction 'crisis'?
Opioids like morphine, tramadol and fentanyl are super-strength painkillers. They’re often prescribed by doctors for chronic pain, despite little evidence to say they’re helpful in it's treatment. Now, there is a growing recognition that over-prescribing of these drugs has led to addiction, harm or even death.
Reporter Anna Cavell examines what's led to the increase in the prescribing of these powerful painkillers in the absence of good evidence to say they work in the long term – and investigates whether cynical marketing tactics by pharmaceutical companies could have helped to fuel the UK market.
As a government review into the growing problem of prescription drug addiction in England hits delays, we hear from those caught up in opioid fuelled addiction, as well as those tasked with helping people hooked on painkillers to come off them safely. 

Producer: Alys Harte
Editor: Gail Champion

Photo credit: Getty images

China US cooperation on opioids

package of Fentanyl
Getty Images

China says it will put further controls on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, which has got caught up in the US China trade negotiations.

The US is suffering an epidemic of opioid related deaths and Washington has been pressuring Beijing to curb exports of the drug.

New Chinese restrictions on "fentanyl-related substances" will apply from 1 May - so broadening the rules out from just fentanyl itself and its "analogues".

But Liu Yuejin, a senior public security ministry official and vice commissioner of the China National Narcotics Control Commission says the US is wide of the mark to finger China as the main source of the drug.

“If the United States truly wants to resolve its fentanyl abuse problem, it needs to strengthen its domestic work,” he told journalists.