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Pain Management and Opioid Overdose
MYTH—OPIOID OVERDOSES ONLY HAPPEN IF YOU ABUSE OPIOIDS
In February of 2009, the FDA announced that they were going to require Risk Evaluation Mitigation Strategies to be applied to dangerous prescription opioids like:
- Fentanyl Patch
The FDA still seems to believe that there is something “dirty” about people who die from drug overdoses. They seem to have bought into the idea that these people did something wrong that caused the fatal overdose.
This explains why some at the FDA were happy to invite to testify at the REMS hearing a psychiatrist who acted like a paid stooge for the narcotic drug dealers. He said that the only people who overdose on these opioids were people who abused them and did not take the drugs as prescribed.
FACT—OPIOID OVERDOSES HAPPEN IF YOU TAKE OPIOIDS AS PRESCRIBED
- One of the people with me, Ed Vanicky, was there because he lost his wife to an overdose of these narcotics and she was taking the drugs exactly as prescribed.
- There are countless numbers of other reported incidents of this happening.
- Many of the overdoses were not fatal and the patients were able to be saved, but they did go into respiratory failure and would have died without prompt medical attention.
PROOF—OPIOID OVERDOSES HAPPEN IF YOU TAKE OPIOIDS AS PRESCRIBED
At last, the medical community has conducted a study that confirms what those of us who speak with people on opioids have known—you can die from an overdose even if you take the prescription drugs as prescribed.
Few would argue that there is a place for these narcotic drugs that act in the same way as anesthesia to block pain if someone has cancer or other terminal disease. No one wants to deny them the right to end their lives as comfortable as possible.
That is why this study is so important—it concentrated on non-cancer or end of life people receiving opioids.
Entitled “Opioid Prescriptions for Chronic Pain and Overdose”, the study results were published in the January 19, 2010, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The story was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
In an editorial entitled, Chronic Noncancer Pain Management and Opioid Overdose: Time to Change Prescribing Practices, in the January 19, 2010 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. A. Thomas McLellan and Dr. Barbara Turner wrote that:
- Opioids are the most commonly prescribed class of medication in the United States.
- Opioids are often prescribed before other treatments seeking to handle the cause have been adequately explored.
- In the past 10 years opioid prescribing has increased more than 800%.
- This increase in opioid prescribing has caused opioid overdose to be among the most common causes of death.
- Many overdoses are caused by people abusing these forms of legal heroin, but there are many that occur when patients take the opioids as prescribed.
- People taking benzodiazepines or other sedative/hypnotics together with opioids were more likely to overdose.
- Inadequate pain doctor supervision and monitoring create more overdose risks.
- Many pain management doctors are not able to treat people who have become addicted to the narcotic drugs.
- Long-term opioid therapy carries too many risks to justify use without improvements in health status.
- Many drugs in the study contained acetaminophen (see Vicodin and Acetaminophen) which creates serious side effects—including acetaminophen poisoning, and is a risk that pain doctors should reduce.
THE STUDY RESULTS
The study has revealed some very disturbing facts about the present treatment of people with chronic pain—not treating the cause but simply prescribing opioids to treat the symptoms.
There has been a large increase in opioid overdoses and the authors of the study wanted to see how many were related to patients who took the dangerous drugs as prescribed.
As the study stated, "Our study provides the first estimates that directly link receipt of medically prescribed opioids to overdose risk, and suggests that overdose risk is elevated in patients receiving medically prescribed opioids, particularly in patients receiving higher doses."
Here are the major points of the study:
- 9,940 noncancer pain persons of Group Health Cooperative, a Seattle-based health-care provider, who received three or more opioid prescriptions within 90 days for chronic noncancer pain between 1997 and 2005, participated in the study.
- These patients were selected because it was felt that they were very unlikely to obtain opioids from the street or by doctor shopping.
- 51 patients in the study were known to have had an overdose, and six died. (Some may have had overdoses but they were not reported.)
- The study pointed out that part of the reason for their study was that 44 percent of those who died of unintentional prescription-drug overdose in West Virginia had been prescribed opioids by a doctor.
- Patients receiving 20 milligrams a day or less of opioids had a 0.2 percent annual overdose rate.
- The rate was 3.7 times higher when the dose was 50 milligrams to 99 milligrams.
- The rate was 8.9 times higher when the dose was at least 100 milligrams a day.
- Dr. Korff, one of the authors of the study said, "This study was the first to look at opioid overdose, non-fatal as well as fatal, among people who we know were getting opioids for chronic pain from a physician.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF GREED
The greed of Big Pharma has no limits. They don’t care that:
- People taking their opioids as prescribed have overdoses.
- Their opioids do not cure anything but simply attempt to mask symptoms.
- Their opioids allow many injuries to get worse.
- Their opioids create Opioid- Induced Hyperalgesia —the pain actually increases and more and more opioids are taken which only increase the pain and the chances of overdose.
- Many "pain doctors" are keeping their patients on these opioids because the law requires the patients to see the doctor every 30 days to renew the prescription, and this becomes a very profitable business for the doctor and the drug company which would disappear if the cause of the patients pain was handled.
- Their versions of pharmaceutical grade heroin are addicting people.
- Once addicted, many people switch to heroin from their legal heroin because it is cheaper.
- More and more people are dying from the use of their drugs.
A CURE MEANS NO CONTINUING PROFITS
Each week we see people, who were prescribed opioids for pain, detox from the opioids and find that their pain level is reduced. We also send many of them to physical therapy which addresses the actual causes of the pain and see the pain level reduce even more.
- Of course, there is no profit for a drug company or an uncaring “pain” doctor to actually see a cure.
- They have apparently decided that profit is all that matters.
HOTTEST PLACES IN HELL
As Dante said so long ago, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality.”
His warning applies not to just the drug company executives and the doctors but to all of us. We know the truth, but we will find ourselves in the same section of hell as the others if we do nothing.
At Novus Medical Detox Center, we specialize in helping people find a cure to the problems caused by drugs and alcohol.
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