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Response to article posted on Pain News Network 8-10-19

Here’s an opinion I posted on the Pain New Network in response to the article “Are Rx Opioids the Culprits or Scapegoats for Opioid Crisis?” by Dr. Lynn Webster and posted August 10, 2019:

“There have always been multiple contributors to the opioid “crisis:” medical prescribers, pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy benefit managers, insurance companies, police agencies, federal agencies, medical boards, courts, patients, family members and friends; there’s so many that share blame. Some for abusing the drugs, some for failing to keep their drugs safe, some for failing to do their jobs to the letter of the law, some for looking the other way when they knew of illegal activity, etc. etc. But what I see now is that the chronic pain patient and their prescriber, whomever they may be, have become the end targets of the over-reaction to this problem.

Chronic pain patients are losing their quality of life and their ability to work or engage with their families and society. Prescribers are running away from helping any patient in pain due to fears of losing their license or facing jail time. Just this last week I have heard of two patients who were dismissed without tapers due to a “failed” urine drug test. The test was a point-of-care cup that is known to have a degree of error and that the manufacturer and pain organizations highly recommend to be confirmed by laboratory analysis BEFORE making any final decisions such as dismissing the patient; yet these patients did not get that secondary review. The prescribers are just looking for any way to dismiss these high risk patients.

What I do see is that the drug abusers, the real addicts, are the ones benefitting from this crisis. More medications and “treatment” centers have become available to them. But in reality they are just replacing one opioid with another and rarely every getting off the opioid “ball and chain” of addiction. Money is to be made in the Medication Assisted Treatment industry whether it be Buprenorphine or Methadone. These addicts get to fail drug tests and keep their medications. They fail to do regular follow-ups, meet with their counselors, and more, yet still get to keep their “medication.” No rules really apply to them, because the federal government is throwing billions of dollars a year at this problem despite the fact that these programs have had a long record of poor results.

The government’s problem is that they always think money can buy the way out of any problem. No. All it does is shift the vultures from one place to another. Vultures feed wherever the food is; in this case the millions of dollars in profits to be made while supposedly “helping” this national “crisis.” No good standards exist for these treatment centers and no one is reviewing their results and inspecting their files and clinics. It will take time but it will eventually come out that these clinics have also done more harm than good, yet as usual, all the millions of dollars made by these vultures will sit safely in their bank accounts nest eggs without ever having to be paid back.

While federal and state attorney generals go after the deep pockets of the corporate pharmaceutical industry and others, the individuals who profited greatly stay safe and never serve any jail time or have to pay back a large percentage of their ill-gotten gains. The multi-million dollar penalties given to some companies over the years is just a drop in the bucket of their huge yearly profits, so it never has really been a deterrent or a reason for them to make changes, because making billions and paying some millions is just part of milking the system to their advantage.”


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