This is a guest editorial post written by our newest contributor, Larry Golbom R.Ph MBA of the Prescription Addiction Radio show.
An Open Letter to the Legal Community Regarding the Overmarketing of Pain Killers by Pharmaceutical Companies Acting as Common Drug Dealers
Prior to being named pain killers, the opium derived drugs were referred to as narcotics. Over one hundred years ago our forefathers took morphine and heroin out of the patent medicines. Morphine and heroin, both products from the opium plant, have the basic morphinan molecule, as do all of today’s opioid “pain relievers”. Starting in 1986, with the misinterpretation of the World Health Organization’s paper concerning terminal pain, the morphinan molecule has come back with a vengeance in the form of oxycodone (Percocet and Oxycontin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin and Lorcet). Oxycodone, Darvocet and hydrocodone have replaced the legally prescribed scourge of heroin prior to making it illegal in 1924.
The drug companies have been ingenious in marketing the need to treat chronic pain regardless of the facts or the outcome. The millions reportedly in chronic pain include a myriad of candidates according to the drug companies. Over-weight middle aged people with back pain, grandmothers with bursitis and young people with a minor injury are all targets for the drugs that have replaced heroin in our society. With the introduction of Oxycontin in 1995, Purdue Pharma used the same tactics to market and sell that the Bayer Company used with the introduction of heroin in 1898. Bayer gave heroin out freely to doctors and Purdue presented free coupons for Oxycontin. In fact, as I write this, promotional coupons are being handed out by the thousands by Purdue to persuade people to try their first “feel good” at a discount.
Oxycodone is a narcotic and a possible side effect is pain relief. For far too many oxycodone means a “high”, withdrawal, addiction or death, the same as heroin. We now have tens of thousands dying from the same basic molecular entity that contains heroin and hundreds of thousands more are addicted. The disability claims and people who can no longer work after “therapy with the opioids” has skyrocketed. At the least, people who have been on the “pain killers” will experience painful withdrawal after a period of time on the drugs. At the worst, people will be forced into treatment and rehabilitation facilities to attempt to stop using the addictive substances. There are very few people who are “cured” from the opioids. Most people who enter into the “contract with the opioids” start taking them for pain and later find out that they have two problems: pain and drug addiction.
Dr Steve Gelfand, an accomplished rheumatogist states:
“We need to recognize the concept of iatrogenic addiction is under-recognized and under-reported, but so pervasive, and the disability problem which is very frequent among opioid addicts who often try to claim disability by attributing their condition to questionable medical diagnoses. I know this as an independent national disability peer-reviewer in rheumatology who reviews long-term disability claims of large carriers which not infrequently are influenced by the under-recognized consequences of opiate overuse and addiction”.
Attorneys who specialize in disability claims may take issue with the previous statement, but for families and loved ones who are living with the consequences of addiction, Dr. Gelfand brings a refreshing viewpoint contrary to the pain management machine that has been developed in this country. Thousands of unnecessary prescriptions are being dispensed every day. I challenge any medical professional to present medical literature that can support the combination of opioids, benzodiazepines, muscle relaxants, amphetamines and a myriad of anti-psychotic medications that have become part of the disabling and deadly mix for far too many people. The drug companies and pain management industry have meticulously and ingeniously been able to perpetuate myths and lies to continue the newest of opium epidemics in human history. The common man does not have the wherewithal or resources to turn the destruction today’s drug companies and pain management doctors (code words for narcotics) have foisted on society. If a neighborhood had someone selling heroin on their streets, they would be outraged. But, having a doctor distribute equally dangerous products on the same street corner has not registered. Unfortunately, the American press and media remain clueless and prisoners of the information only being disseminated by an industry that has become out of control with little conscience as to the destruction they are creating.
The attorneys in our country have a history of bringing about safer products and protecting our citizens. This is a challenge to attorneys everywhere that an opportunity is being missed. I hope this post will help creative people understand that the opium plant, the same opium plant that has devastated societies for the last 5,000 years, has raised its influence once again in our lifetime. The drug companies call them pain killers. The addict calls them roxies, oxys and blueberries.
Although a pharmacist, I remain a lay person concerning legal affairs. I have long wondered how the legal community has missed what appears to be a multi million dollar opportunity in regards to the over marketing and over selling of the “pain killers” in our society.
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