California: Coronavirus testing cost zero if insured, employee & employer benefits


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 Only leaves tens of millions uninsured. Does nothing about cost for medical care or home health care after testing positive..

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Governor Newsom, State Health Officials Announce More than 22 Million Californians Now Eligible for Free Medically Necessary COVID-19 Testing

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Today, under the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom, the Department of Managed Health Care directed all commercial and Medi-Cal health plans regulated by the Department to immediately reduce cost-sharing to zero for all medically necessary screening and testing for the COVID-19 in theAll Plan Letter (PDF). This includes waiving cost-sharing for emergency room, urgent care or provider office visits when the purpose of the visit is to be screened and tested for COVID-19. The need for COVID-19 testing is based on medical necessity, a clinical determination made on a case by case basis by medical professionals.

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“Californians shouldn’t have to fear a big medical bill just because they took a test for COVID-19,” said Governor Newsom. “This action means that Californians who fit the testing requirements can receive the test at no cost. We’re all in this together, and I’m grateful to those health providers who have already stepped up and heeded our call.”

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“This action will ensure that Californians who need a test will receive one at no cost,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. “This doesn’t mean every Californians should be seeking a test. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and may have had contact with a person with COVID-19 or recently traveled to countries with apparent community spread, call your health care provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care.”

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Today the California Department of Insurance issued similar direction providing cost free medically necessary testing for an additional 2 million Californians. Combined these announcements ensure that 24 million more Californians are eligible to receive testing, should their health care provider deem it medically necessary.Insurance Bulletin COVID-19 Screening and Testing (PDF).

 

The Department of Managed Health Care also directed health plans to increase capacity to screen and treat COVID-19 as needed to minimize further transmission by encouraging health plans to expand telehealth services and to take steps to ensure patients receive medically necessary medication if there is a shortage of a particular drug.

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These orders from the Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance do not apply to individuals in self-insured health coverage products.

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Support Now Available for Employers and Workers Impacted by COVID-19

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Also today, the California Employee Development Department announced support services to individuals affected by COVID-19 in California. For faster and more convenient access to those services, the use of online options is encouraged.

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Individuals who are unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional) canfile a Disability Insurance (DI) claim.

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Disability Insurance provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50 – $1,300 a week.

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Californians who are unable to work because they are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional) canfile a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim.

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Paid Family Leave provides up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50 – $1,300 a week.

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Employers experiencing a slowdown in their businesses or services as a result of the Coronavirus impact on the economy may apply for the UI Work Sharing Program. This program allows employers to seek an alternative to layoffs – retaining their trained employees by reducing their hours and wages that can be partially offset with UI benefits. Workers of employers who are approved to participate in the Work Sharing Program receive the percentage of their weekly Unemployment Insurance benefit amount based on the percentage of hours and wages reduced, not to exceed 60 percent.

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Visit the Work Sharing Program to learn more about its benefits for employers and employees, and how to apply.

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Governor Proclaimed State of Emergency

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Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday declared a State of Emergency to make additional resources available, formalize emergency actions already underway across multiple state agencies and departments, and help the state prepare for broader spread of COVID-19. The proclamation comes as the number of positive California cases rises and following one official COVID-19 death.

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The emergency proclamation includes provisions that protect consumers against price gouging, allow for health care workers to come from out of state to assist at health care facilities, and give health care facilities the flexibility to plan and adapt to accommodate incoming patients.

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View a copy of the emergency proclamation (PDF).

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COVID-19 in California by the Numbers (as of 10 a.m. Pacific Time):

60– Positive cases

1 – Death

24 – Cases of positive tests related to federal repatriation flights

36 – Cases not related to repatriation flights

  • 18 – Travel-related

  • 10 – Person to person

  • 4 – Community transmission

  • 4 – Currently under investigation

9,400+ – number of people self-monitoring who returned to the U.S. through SFO or LAX

49 – Number of local health jurisdictions involved in self-monitoring

15 – Labs with test kits

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How Can People Protect Themselves:

Every person has a role to play. So much of protecting yourself and your family comes down to common sense:

  • Washing hands with soap and water.

  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

  • Staying away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.

  • Following guidance from public health officials.

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What to Do if You Think You’re Sick:

  • Call ahead: If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and may have had contact with a person with COVID-19 or recently traveled to countries with apparent community spread, call your health care provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.

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California’s Response to COVID-19:

We have been actively and extensively planning with our local public health and health care delivery systems. Here are some of the things we are already doing:

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  • As in any public health event, the California Department of Public Health’s Medical and Health Coordination Center has been activated and is coordinating public health response efforts across the state.

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  • California continues to prepare and respond in coordination with federal and local partners, hospitals and physicians.

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  • California activated the State Operations Center to coordinate response efforts across the state.

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  • Governor Gavin Newsom requested the Legislature make up to $20 million available for state government to respond to the spread of COVID-19.

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  • California made available some of its emergency planning reserves of 21 million N95 filtering facepiece masks for use in certain health care settings to ease shortages of personal protective equipment.

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  • The Public Health Department is providing information, guidance documents, and technical support to local health departments, health care facilities, providers, schools, universities, colleges, and childcare facilities across California.

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  • It is coordinating with federal authorities and local health departments that have implemented screening, monitoring and, in some cases quarantine of returning travelers.

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  • In coordination with the CDC, state and local health departments, we are actively responding to cases of COVID-19.

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  • The Public Health Department is supporting hospitals and local public health laboratories in the collection of specimens and testing for COVID-19.

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  • The California Department of Public Health’s state laboratory in Richmond and 14 other public health department laboratories now have tests for the virus that causes COVID-19.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please ignore the ads below. They are not from me.

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The advertising below is not mine.

In exchange, this blog is less expensive.

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No Respirator Masks, No Respirators, Healthcare Workers Not Protected


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National Shortage of Everything Needed to protect

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Healthcare Workers

 

A massive kick in the gut REALITY

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We will have to accept a deadly crisis as stark dead cold reality in vast numbers with things we’ve never imagined could happen here. Don’t be getting bored or lulled to sleep now by the quiet that comes before the tsunami.

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“As coronavirus cases in Washington state mounted and the country’s first death was announced Saturday, health authorities scrambled to get more specialized masks for front-line clinicians who need to protect themselves from the highly contagious disease.

Washington state authorities sent an urgent request for 233,000 respirators and 200,000 surgical masks to be released from the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile. The stockpile is a repository of drugs and supplies for deployment in major public health emergencies, such as an infectious disease outbreak.

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Within 24 hours, Washington state’s liaison to the federal government, Casey Katims, was told his state would get assistance. But it would be less than half the amount they requested — 93,600 N95 respirators and 100,200 surgical masks..Washington’s experience highlights one of the country’s biggest gaps in preparedness for battling the respiratory virus that causes the disease known as covid-19. The United States has about 1 percent of the 3.5 billion respirators that experts estimate the health-care system needs a year to fight a severe influenza pandemic. That translates to 12 million N95 respirators and 30 million surgical masks, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has said. An additional 5 million N95 respirators may be expired, he has said.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

Please ignore the ads below. They are not from me.

The advertising below is not mine.

In exchange, this blog is less expensive............

Policies unintended consequences. Ethical distribution of limited resources.


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Concluding paragraphs from The Washington Post, March 2, 2020:

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The coronavirus could hit the U.S. harder than other wealthy countries

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Our inequities create unique vulnerabilities —

as does our current political climate

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…To reduce exposure, people with the virus must come forward. They must also identify their contacts. Fear that this may result in deportation or harm for loved ones may make this essential step impossible for many. As we learned during the Ebola and Zika responses in New York City, without the active engagement of immigrant communities that have the closest ties to the countries with the highest burden, prevention efforts could falter.

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We don’t mean for this analysis and its grim outlook for what lies ahead to create additional fear or panic in the United States. Indeed, there is much to be reassured by: For many young, healthy Americans, as well as children, the risk of serious illness and death is low, and health departments across the country are accurately assessing risk and implementing prevention measures.

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.Yet at the national level, we need an intentional, human-rights-based response that pays attention to health equity. This will require honest conversations about the potential human rights challenges posed by quarantine and other measures as well as more discussions about the ethical distribution of limited resources. It may also require some self-reflection on how policies can have unintended consequences for public safety and public health.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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For My Home Page, click here:  

Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

Please ignore the ads below. They are not from me.

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The advertising below is not mine.

In exchange, this blog is less expensive.

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Do you don’t want people to avoid tests or treatment because of a $3,000 medical bill?


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Coronavirus shows the importance of Bernie Sanders & Medicare for All.

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In a pandemic, you don’t want people avoiding getting tested or treated because they can’t afford a $3,000 medical bill. A lot of working families cannot afford that.

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We’re only as safe as the least insured person among us. Everyone has to be covered.

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One American man who flew back from Wuhan with his small daughter was hospitalized at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego for several days until the daughter tested negative for coronavirus. After living in Wuhan for 15 years, he did not have American insurance.

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Our CDC had no test kits available so it took many days for results to be flown to CDC and returned. England has now tested 10,000 people on national health insurance. We have tested 420 but many people were untested as kits were not available and they are in our communities spreading the highly contagious virus.

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What is the cost of high-level bio-containment units that function like ICU’s? My guess is that 6 days would easily be $60,000 if not far more.

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This poor man.

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One business man in Florida paid $3500 for a test to prove he was well after flying back from China so he did not have to quarantine for two weeks. His insurance refused to pay. Will yours pay for testing of your family?

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.ed 

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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For My Home Page, click here:  

Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

Please ignore the ads below. They are not from me.

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The advertising below is not mine.

In exchange, this blog is less expensive.

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Medicare & Insurers Crack Down on Opioids – Patients Suffer


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Individualized pain management does not exist.

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Correction from reader: 

“Individualized treatment does exist, but insurance companies are not paying for it. This has to change.” 

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The New York Times reports “Medicare is Cracking Down on Opioids” (link below).

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Last year an insurer denied 10 mg daily Oxycontin for one of my seniors who had been safely taking this for many years. That is less than 1 mg per hour for 12 hour relief. Pharmacy refused to fill unless insurer approved. That’s one way to reduce healthcare costs without an uprising. There is little tolerance for someone with pain. Are they viewing patients as addicts? Would they do this for cancer? 

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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Comments are welcome.

This site is not for email, not for medical questions, and not for appointments.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please IGNORE THE ADS BELOW. They are not from me.

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Best wishes to all!


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Please ignore the Advertising – has nothing to do with me.

Anger


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Anger at the failure of our medical system to support research and treatment of pain, anger at failure of the few currently available analgesics, anger at lack of interest or funding from Pharma – it requires at least $10,000,000 more to finish one important human treatment before submitting to FDA – that’s just one study. Pharma does not care, the price is peanuts to them. At one point, a company bought it, intending only to bury it. They do that for rheumatology treatments too, both the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system are being ignored. What could be more powerful than the immune system?

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Anger

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Anger at the failure of most medical organizations to discuss cannabis, medical marijuana. Training in cannabis is imperative.

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I am thrilled that Scripps Memorial Hospital Grand rounds in 10 days is a one hour lecture by the doctor who is head of HelloMD, national leaders in physician approval for medical marijuana, and in education.

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Anger at the destruction of the field of pain management. I posted on this two days ago, top left column. Anger at the greed in the medical system where pharma can buy whatever they want by sprinkling money at congress who will never ever ever do anything about the unholy prices of drugs. Certain elements in power will never stop trampling on the poor and the disabled. They will never treat the addicts. There is no will, they are paid off and nobody wants to help the disabled, the unwell, the poor. Not in  the U.S. Voters do not want to hear it.

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Anger says step back, surrender.

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There is nothing anyone can do. The swamp is exhausting, dirty, dangerous and black.

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I have tried 7-1/2 years to introduce a new paradigm. At various lifetimes in medicine, I have had funding, sat on boards of companies, and panels at FDA. I have witnessed the destruction of what it once was 43 years ago when I entered practice. A long and tortured history, but still the most exciting thing in the world is medicine, science. So what? They shut off the field of pain and are killing it. The world is the world. Always was, always will be. Lust and greed, says the sage. You cannot uncurl the curly tail of a pig, says the sage. Always was, always will be. Do your duty. You cannot escape it. But surrender to love.

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Surrender. Do what you can and surrender the results to the Infinite.

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Read these books:

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Dying to Get High, Marijuana as Medicine

by Wendy Chapkis and Richard J. Webb

NYU Press 2008

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From back leaf:

“How can a substance that is no mystery to half of all adults in the United States prompt such confusion and misrepresentation in the realms of law, medicine, and policy?…. Offering nuance in place of slogans, Dying to Get High tells an inspiring story of the tactics and philosophies of a little-understood health movement.”

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“A beautifully written account from the front lines of the struggle between a federal drug war complex determined to keep demonizing marijuana and the growing movement of patients and doctors who have found marijuana to be a valuable medicine.”

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“….. Provides a human element to the history, pharmacology, psychology, and politics of medical marijuana in a way that no other work has. I loved reading it.”

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Heroin Century

by Tom Carnwath and Ian Smith

Routledge Press, London

2002

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This is an extremely important, amazingly interesting, readable book for everyone.

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From back cover:

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Is heroin really dangerous? Or Is it just dangerous because it is illegal?

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Page-one 93,

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“The income of the drug barons is an annual $254 thousand million dollars, greater than the American defense budget.”

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Read this book. A page turner! Exciting! fast paced, awesome! mind boggling!

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And just because you might flash some anger to propel you to actually do something, don’t get stuck there. Be at peace. Work hard. Use your expertise. Surrender to the Infinite.

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While you are thinking about it, tell Congress to make pain management a mandatory course in more than the current 3% of medical schools, less then 30 hours in 4 years. Fund research and treatment of neuropathic pain such as CRPS, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome because it can be so disabling – the same neuropathic pain can occur from strokes. Don’t we deserve better? Not even cancer pain is taught, let alone grade schoolers who should be taught about the body, about addiction, drugs, sex. Teach all that opioids cause pain because they trigger inflammation in the immune system and that stimulates pain. The more opioid you give, the more the pain. Teach about the brain’s pleasure centers and addiction, how drugs and food and cigarettes work there and how addiction kills.

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Have a wonderful life all of you. There’s a lot of work to take up. You will meet great people. Can’t wait to see what a little anger will do.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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Comments are welcome.

This site is not for email, not for medical questions, and not for appointments.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please IGNORE THE ADS BELOW. They are not from me.

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Insurers Deny Opioids, CVS Refuses to Fill Unless Authorized


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Always something new in this amazing field of pain management where treatment is decided by politicians and insurers.

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Patients and physicians alike have suffered denial of medications without prior authorization for the last 10 years or more. Prior authorization takes enormous time, at times more than one hour for each medication.  Try to picture a full day of seeing patients and an unexpected full day just for prior authorizations that must be fitted into the hours the insurer is open – remember, examiners often leave early, central time, hours ahead of PST. 

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Insurers deny the usual opioid because there is no proof that opioids have ever been proven to help chronic pain and side effects may include constipation, cognitive impairment, overdose and/or death.  

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Insurers routinely deny opioid at lower dosages when I try to taper: giving less is not allowed without prior authorization. Remember, we don’t find out until the patient goes to the pharmacy to fill, and they may wait to fill, then may need the medication that very night to continue their medication. Who is open after hours? 

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One independent 94 year old senior for years has been on fentanyl 12 mcg/hr patch and Oxycontin 10 mg in AM (not PM) for frozen shoulders and arthritis in knees. These are small doses. Denied for 3 or 4 years, so she paid out of pocket, in her 90’s. 

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She walks with a rollator, and wins at bridge games that she plays several times a week. Under my care since 2003, physical therapy has been unsuccessful. With her orthopedist, she receives injections every three months that help arthritis in knees. We had tried appeals including sending entire chart to insurer that included physical therapy note, but insurer insisted on physical therapy again. I asked them to show me one, simply ONE publication that showed physical therapy helpful for severe frozen shoulders present for decades. 

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Now pharmacy refuses to fill her 10 mg Oxycontin and her patch unless insurer authorizes. Her oxygen saturation is 98% which is excellent. Cognitive function is unchanged since 2003. I cannot imagine how she gets dressed as even a few degrees of motion of either shoulder elicits screams of pain. Her daytime caregiver must be dressing her. 

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That’s how we treat our injured, our disabled and our elderly.

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Insurers have authorized $50,000 spinal cord stimulators for years without a single study showing long term proof of efficacy. The potential for permanent damage to spinal cord and potential for accelerated pain syndromes is frightening. See the many comments on this site from patients who have suffered serious medical injury. 

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NIH has failed to adequately fund pain research for decades. But congress has accepted millions from opioid manufacturers and for years FDA approved one new opioid after another, as often as 4 new ones each year. FDA previously approved a nonopioid medication such as Lyrica for neuropathic pain, but in the last few years, a nonopioid Horizant has been approved only for postherpetic neuralgia pain — nerve pain, but only ONE type of nerve pain. Remember, insurers mandate first trying gabapentin for nerve pain, though it was never FDA approved for pain at all. Try to get an off-label non-opioid medication approved for pain. hah!

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Now I have an RN in her 40’s who has severe nerve pain from CRPS in both upper limbs after carpal tunnel surgery. Gabapentin caused severe cognitive dysfunction, improved on Horizant but insurers refused to approve Horizant. The cost for one daily is at least $750, but pain is better using twice daily.

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This week comes a letter from insurer that Revia, naltrexone 50 mg tablet FDA approved for addiction to opioids and alcohol, is no longer covered.

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Psychiatry colleagues tell me the same story. Antidepressants that also help anxiety are not covered but better than taking Xanax that causes memory loss and can be used to overdose.

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Vote for better politicians, not for lies. Insist on NIH research funding for chronic pain management to represent the vast population with chronic pain, not the pittance they allow. 

 

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

~~

Comments are welcome.

This site is not for email, not for medical questions, and not for appointments.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please IGNORE THE ADS BELOW. They are not from me.

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Spinal Cord Stimulators – comment on RSD


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Spinal Cord Stimulators 

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 Craig’s comment

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By no means do I mean to say that I or anyone else has better insight into how to treat pain, but I am against spinal cord stimulators [SCS’s] for treatment of pain due to CRPS, and possibly against use in other situations. I demand that the billions in profit they made be put into a retrospective and prospective study of damage caused by them in order for them to give full informed consent.

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I have 3 goals writing this.

  1. SCS’s

  2. Craig’s experience

  3. The Only Real Answer for severe pain, not damaging the system with opioids

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Informed consent is never given for spinal cord stimulators because it requires truth telling, something our corporations have been reluctant to do. Business ethics are not medical ethics, as we keep being reminded daily in the headlines.

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I enclose, below, a generously expressed and detailed comment by a man who had the patience to sit down and  write the painfully gory details so you can weigh-in on your decision whether to follow your pain specialist’s opinion to give you one. I don’t want anyone to feel suckered into choosing them and if I had pain I’ll admit I’d crave relief too. Anything. I’d be in line before the doors open.

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But if you have CRPS, spinal cord stimulators will create more pain. CRPS evolves unpredictably, by a will of its own. I know some very desperate patients with CRPS everywhere including face, mouth, gums, tongue, organs, trunk, limbs. Spinal cord stimulators will create more pain. Keep in mind, I don’t see the 5 year success stories even for lumbar disc pain. They don’t need me if they are pain free.

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But if you have CRPS and desperate need for pain relief because all else has failed — every known drug in highest possible doses of ketamine, propofol, opioids for weeks in ICU fail to even touch pain— there is one thing, and only one thing to do and I will set it out below. I just sent my recommendation to a patient with CRPS in extreme pain.

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My recommendation, below, is for patients who have nowhere else to turn.

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First I’ll mention the problems Craig encountered with SCS’s. He sent his comment to the opening page of this blog, so I will reproduce below. 

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I am currently undergoing a trial Medtronic SCS. I have had to have it reprogrammed 3 times since it was installed 5 days ago. I have had sensations and issues that I have addressed with my rep and my neurosurgeon. I get a severe headache when the unit is turned on. I get the constant feeling of having to urinate. I have current running through my testicles which they can not seem to program out and I am getting little pain relief. I have had to failed back surgeries, many failed injections and I have CRPS. The leads that were inserted when I was in the table covered my mid back and both legs. After I got to my feet and waited while they programmed the unit in another room. They came in and plugged it in and I no longer had coverage on the right side. My crps is in both legs, my hands, arms and face. The lyrica helped to tamp down some of the burning but I am in pain 24/7 and this was my last resort. I have scar tissue completely surrounding my S1 nerve. By the grace of God, I am on my feet, on crutches. I seem to get a look of disbelief when I tell them the unit is causing these issues or it’s not giving me the relief I was counting on. Relief, only to cause greater issues and pain. Is not relief to me. I can not wait to get this trial out of my back. I believe the leads slipped and that is why I am not getting the full coverage I had on the table. The issues I have had are as follows: severe headache, constant feeling of having to urinate, extreme joint pain, abdominal pain, sleeplessness, involuntary jerking, surges in current even when sitting still. Intense pain around the lead insertion site. Current uncomfortably running through my testicles, regardless of setting. It is my opinion there is still not a lot known about crps and I have read evidence of people have great success with these units. Everyone reacts differently. My body obviously creates a lot of scar tissue and my orthopedic surgeon created a fair amount herself. I can’t imagine even more or being forced into a chair for yet another unlucky decision. The medication helps and I have lived this far without the optimism that it would end soon. I had high hoed for this device but I don’t think it is right for me.

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One of my patients with CRPS was hospitalized for weeks with recurring unusual abscesses and required repeated surgery of hand and forearm. Even before surgery, she had failed opioids, failed ketamine, and was in ICU for weeks and weeks while the same medications were still given along with Propofol and IV Tylenol. Nothing helps her extreme pain.

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Anesthesiologists on staff in ICU threw everything they had at the pain for weeks. Most anesthesia pain doctors would have probably done what they did because that is the limit of tools we have.

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When you have hit the limit of benefit from opioids, ketamine, propofol, we have nothing else that treats pain with one exception: drug holiday.

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Stop all analgesics including Tylenol that destroys the liver as severely as cancer, the severity of which was newly discovered and published yesterday.

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The receptors for these analgesic drugs have up-regulated to such an extent they have caused the situation. Again, I stress, everything that was done during the ICU admissions would be done by any anesthesiology pain specialist. Those are the only tools. They cause the problem. The same for opioid induced hyperalgesia. We used to do it with Parkinson’s drugs in the 80’s.

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The only way to rehabilitate the up-regulation of all those receptors that have now exploded in numbers, immune to anything you throw at them, is stop the drugs.  Stop all of them for weeks, maybe months, years, no one knows, you are all the human guinea pig waiting to happen. But if we restart them, how long do we wait, how quickly will it again lead to this massive hyper-excitable state of pro-inflammatory cytokines that we know have gone wild, flooding the CNS. A flooded engine will not restart.

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Ketamine at least is known to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, but the system is too busy exploding, birthing new receptors that take over, and you’ve got a 55 car pile up. Well, more like millions I’d guess. No scientist here. Clnically, when can we resume something after a drug holiday, how soon and which drug? I’d avoid opioids because they create more pro-inflammatory cytokines. Choose ketamine, because they reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, but if it works at all, stop it at first sign of tolerance, which is the need for increased dose. It becomes less effective. Walk a fine line, endure more pain because unless you do, it will no longer help. Opioids, analgesics of many kinds. 

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How do we get you through a drug holiday because we know withdrawing these drugs will trigger even more pain for possibly weeks until the system settles down?

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Pain storms, hurricanes

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This is complex regional pain syndrome where we see this insanity of pain storms. There is no other condition, unless several neuropathic pains in people with cancer, nowhere I have seen this type of pain in decades except CRPS – comparable to pain of subarrachnoid hemorrhage, blinding pain.

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No one has answers. None. One university does outpatient infusions of ketamine six hours daily for 8 to 12 weeks. Does it help? A small percentage. Outpatient, 6 hours daily, 5 days a week, staying at a hotel, 8 weeks.

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This is CRPS/RSD. No one has answers. It is futile to throw more of the drug in the system. That is my opinion. You have a choice and may choose otherwise. It is your body. You may stay on monthly opioids for decades, until you finally admit how poorly they work. A drug holiday is what we did in the 70s during my ancient training with Parkinson’s patients. They needed full 24-hour support. The American medical system has changed since then and those are not options currently available—cost.

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You need full psychological and psychiatric support.

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The Only Real Answer

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The country needs to invest $10 million to complete the clinical trials needed for an injectable, long-lasting interleukin 10 [IL-10], the anti-inflammatory cytokine. It already has full scientific and animal studies performed by and with the world’s foremost glial scientist at University of Colorado Boulder. Professor Linda Watkins has won awards from many countries. She has been the keynote speaker at the annual academy pain meetings for years. IL-10 can relieve pain for three months in animals that have intractable chronic neuropathic pain. This is not new —–NIH I’m looking at you to fund clinical trials. And those of you who care, do a Kickstarter to fund the clinical trials.

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This is the power of the innate immune system. NIH would rather fund research on the unknowns like stem cells rather than the known. It’s known for decades, NIH does not like to fund pain research. Glia are not all about pain. They are the innate immune system, the key to Alzheimer’s, neurodegenerative diseases, almost all known disease including atherosclerosis. It’s all about inflammation. We need the trials to stop giving drugs that cause inflammation, opioids —–CDC fiats are not as good as a drug that relieves pain, a drug that really works on mechanism. Where will the addicts go if the ER only has IL-10 for pain? That is one way to overspend on ER visits.  And NIH, please get us some real clinical research funding on how to use glia for our benefit. Get us some research on the entourage effect, combining medications to achieve relief especially for neuropathic pain.

Then bring on some crack negotiating teams from insurers to do some negotiation about pharmaceutical prices. Our new president has mentioned that.

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Please bring this to everyone’s attention. One way to get a grip on pain and/or depression is to build hope, help others, and energize behind a goal.

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Kickstarters work to raise tens of millions overnight. 

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IL-10 – animals have been shown to be pain free for three months, already proven in animal studies, by one of the world’s most widely acknowledged pain specialists Professor Linda Watkins, PhD. We need the final steps to fund the clinical trials in humans.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

~~
This site is not for email and not for appointments.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone the office to schedule.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please IGNORE THE ADS BELOW. They are not from me.

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Medications denied for pain today – Celebrex, Skelaxin, Morphine, Oxycodone, Methadone, Suboxone


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Happy New Year. Medications are denied for pain one month after you sign onto new insurance based on medications they cover:

 

Celebrex, a generic NSAID, less risk of GI bleed which is an increased in seniors day by day as we age.

 

Skelaxone, generic muscle relaxant

 

Lorzone, muscle relaxant

 

Morphine 30 mg ER, generic, denied 3 per day, well within CDC guidelines

 

Methadone 10 mg 3/day, well within CDC guidelines

 

Oxycodone 5 mg 3/day, well within CDC guidelines

 

Suboxone generic,  FDA approved for addiction in US but not for pain; approved for pain and for addiction in EU.

 

Does insurance cover cost of medication?

 

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Opioids: a think tank to expose the deep-rooted failures and injustices in our health care system


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STAT is “a new national publication focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine, and scientific discovery” in partnership with the Lown Institute.

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“The Lown Institute is a think tank dedicated to research and public communication to expose the deep-rooted failures and injustices in our health care system, and to helping clinicians, patients, and communities develop a shared vision for a better health system.”

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.“Since 2012, the Lown Institute has been a leading voice in the movement to recognize the harms of overuse of medical care, and in pointing out the clear connection between wasteful medical treatment and our system’s failure to deliver needed care.”

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This article from STAT, excerpted below, beautifully and painfully describes the opposing sides of the deep divide in our country about treatment with opioid analgesics for chronic pain. It is a divide deeper than the growing upheaval of politics in America, and it is unique to us. The United States, with 5% of the world’s population, consumes 80% of the global opioid supply, and an estimated 99% of hydrocodone. “Pain drugs are the second-largest pharmaceutical class globally, after cancer medicines.”

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I have seen both sides, those who cannot live or function without opioids and those whose pain improves radically once they taper off. The war on patients plays out many times daily, while patients and doctors alike are deeply concerned at the lack of research in this volatile unpredictable field, where patients are subjected to whack-a-dose prescriptions since the March 2016 CDC fiat that dictated slashed opioid dosages, a dictate that now entitles insurers to deny all medication overnight —saving them tremendous costs. All denied, no matter how small the dose, nor how intense the diagnoses and pain.

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This irrational, inhumane, and unpredictable disease of change has become a constant, destroying lives of patients and caregivers while addicts continue to overdose evermore and prisons are filled with low level street corner dealers —never the rich who buy their way out of prison. Cheating is a way of life for corporations, condoned by congress.

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A ‘civil war’ over painkillers rips apart the medical community — and leaves patients in fear

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PALO ALTO, Calif. — For Thomas P. Yacoe, the word is “terrifying.”

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Leah Hemberry describes it as “constant fear.”

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For Michael Tausig Jr., the terror is “beyond description.”

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All three are patients struggling with chronic pain, but what they are describing is not physical agony but a war inside the medical community that is threatening their access to painkillers — and, by extension, their work, their relationships, and their sanity.

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Two years after the United States saw a record 27,000 deaths involving prescription opioid medications and heroin, doctors and regulators are sharply restricting access to drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin. But as the pendulum swings in the other direction, many patients who genuinely need drugs to manage their pain say they are being left behind.

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Doctors can’t agree on how to help them.

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There’s a civil war in the pain community [my emphasis],” said Dr. Daniel B. Carr, president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. “One group believes the primary goal of pain treatment is curtailing opioid prescribing. The other group looks at the disability, the human suffering, the expense of chronic pain.”

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Pain specialists say there is little civil about this war.

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“There’s almost a McCarthyism on this, that’s silencing so many people who are simply scared,” said Dr. Sean Mackey, who oversees Stanford University’s pain management program.

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“The thing is, we all want black and white. We don’t do well with nuance. And this is an incredibly nuanced issue.”

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Stanford’s Mackey said those risks are important to recognize. But, he said, nearly 15,000 people die a year from anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. “People aren’t talking about that,” he said….

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…Dr. Anna Lembke, who practices alongside Mackey at Stanford’s pain clinic and is chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, published a book about the opioid crisis last year. It was titled: “Drug Dealer, MD: How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It’s So Hard to Stop.

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Lembke believes that long-term opioid use can cause patients to perceive pain even after the original cause of pain has cleared. Some patients, she said, find themselves free of pain only once they have endured the often agonizing effects of opioid withdrawal.

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“That’s what we’re seeing again and again,” she said.

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…. a single father of two teens, said that every month he needs to fill a prescription, he’s fearful it will be denied.

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Mackey says doctors being trained at Stanford’s pain center have grown increasingly fearful about prescribing opioids...

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[Dr. Mackey describes a practicing 81 year old physician who cycled to work until recent back surgery. His life is now complicated by severe back pain and he requires opioids to continue to function.]

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“If you’re 81 and you stop getting out of bed, it’s a slippery slope,” he said.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

~~
This site is not for email and not for appointments.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone the office to schedule.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please IGNORE THE ADS BELOW. They are not from me.

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Heroin Addiction absent or rare in UK prescribing


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Diamorphine (heroin) is prescribed for pain in the UK . Yesterday’s LA Times Op-Ed

What’s really causing the prescription drug crisis?

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Studies show addiction to opioids of any kind, even heroin, is rare in the UK. Not what we see in the US. They have more socialized care for housing, medical care, medications including for the jobless. They do not have the hopelessness that leads to desperation and addiction. Desperation is why all patients with chronic pain must work with a psychologist. Pain is not in your head, but desperation is, and a psychologist can help you learn tools to deal with desperation. If you don’t, pain will go up, up, up and that’s what’s in your head. Unless you use those tools, I promise you will suffer because it will get worse and worse and worse.

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“Doctors in many parts of the world — including Canada and some European countries — prescribe more powerful opiates than their peers in the United States. In England, if, say, you get hit by a car, you may be given diamorphine (the medical name for heroin) to manage your pain. Some people take it for long periods. If what we’ve been told is right, they should become addicted in huge numbers.

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But this doesn’t occur. The Canadian physician Gabor Maté argues in his book “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” that studies examining the medicinal use of narcotics for pain relief find no significant risk of addiction. I’ve talked with doctors in Canada and Europe about this very issue. They say it’s vanishingly rare for a patient given diamorphine or a comparably strong painkiller in a hospital setting to develop an addiction.

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Given that really powerful opiates do not appear to systematically cause addiction when administered by doctors, we should doubt that milder ones do. In fact only 1 in 130 prescriptions for an opiate such as Oxycontin or Percocet in the United States results in addiction, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Heath.

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So what’s really happening? The second, clashing story goes, again, crudely, like this: Opiate use is climbing because people feel more distressed and disconnected, and are turning to anesthetics to cope with their psychological pain.

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Addiction rates are not spread evenly across the United States, as you would expect if chemical hooks were the primary cause. On the contrary, addiction is soaring in areas such as the Rust Belt, the South Bronx and the forgotten towns of New England, where people there say they are lonelier and more insecure than they have been in living memory.”

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Healthcare costs in the US are a very serious problem. Opioids require monthly visits. Patients on opioids are forced to see a pain specialist, many for decades when pain is chronic. That’s bad enough, but the cost of opioid medications are outrageous. I know some whose opioids cost $17,000 per month or more. And some doctors in my area have mandated urine drug tests every single month, $750 per test, to prove you are not taking street drugs. High risk patients and nonaddicts alike, every month, just to pee in a cup and get your prescription opioid. 

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Now congress is getting rid of the ACA, to make it better. I can only imagine how helpful they have been. Privatize social security, privatize medicare, privatize everything. Of course that will be better for them. Will it help anyone else? 

 

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.
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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

~~
This site is not for email and not for appointments.

If you wish an appointment, please telephone the office to schedule.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please IGNORE THE ADS BELOW. They are not from me.

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Off opioids, pain better. Life is back!


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We have all seen pain go down when patients taper off opioids. Look down many paragraphs to see a case report near the end.

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I prescribe opioids for intractable pain, but I have never seen opioids take pain to zero on a sustained basis, year after year – I have seen glial modulators with the specific off-label combinations of medications do that. Chosen because of mechanism: neuro-inflammation that we know is present in chronic pain or chronic depression and recently reported in teens with early psychosis. Inflammation. Brain on fire – imaginary fire, skin is burning, shooting, pulsing, changing from ice to hot, unable to tolerate light touch, sunlight.

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You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to read the brilliant science that’s come out since 1991 that has changed neuroscience more profoundly than anything I’ve ever seen – many prizes given from many countries. Ignored by docs – don’t blame them. Not everyone is able to take the risk to be different in medicine. It is NOT rewarded. Doctors can just ignore patients now after 30 years of living with pain 10 on scale of 10, pain now zero. Like one of my patients best care for 8 years, told to live with pain that was 8 on scale of 10 constant, unvarying, burning.

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You never will see that with opioids, procedures, pumps, stims, blocks, biofeedback. Most of my patients with intractable pain from hell, been there, done that at the top places: Boston, Philly, Cleveland, Mayo, years of grueling P.T. Kids get the worst. No drugs for pain until after age 18 – pediatricians need to be studied what they do, and oncologists need to be studied again. I know a top hospital in the country where for decades not one oncologist ever called for a pain consults – decade after decade. I know too many stories from too many top places about how cancer pain is not treated as well as it could be because of opiophobia perhaps, but there are so many other things done for cancer pain – oncologists refuse.

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The oncologist at a famous hospital in Beverly Hills that will go unnamed, threatened the grandmother of my UCLA Pain Clinic colleague, an MD Pain Specialist, who had come with her grandmother. Oncologist threatened the 90 year old woman: “If you want pain medicine, find another oncologist.”

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Any hospital would sooner get rid of pain specialists – they don’t bring money to the hospital like cardiologists who get streams of patients from around the country. In Houston, Netherlands would load a jumbo jet full of patients who needed heart surgery, fly them Sunday to Baylor and fly them back home end of week after heart surgery. Every single week, a plane full. These are GODS!

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Your pain is a low priority on the scale of gods. Excuse my tone. It breaks my heart to see every pediatric nurse threaten to walk off the entire floor if the MD did not call a pain consult. And I read in nurses notes, line after line after line the same thing for 3 months: “Patient screaming in pain.”

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I diagnosed the problem that they overlooked – every spinal nerve root coming off every level of spine was lighted up like a tiny 1″ band of pearls each side. This 17 year old athletic muscular tall male had lost 45 lbs of muscle, unable to move, screaming, 2 nurses required to bravely try to roll him onto his side to change sheets and toilet in bed, him screaming, perhaps rigid – I was never there then. Ignored by one of the world’s foremost oncologist for three months. The humanity of it.

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I’ve seen worse.

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GODS. These men are GODS. As a junior faculty, you do not look them in the eye, ask a question, or even speak to them. He was one of the best in the world, perhaps the very best, #1 – God of Leukemia, not god of pain so intense the lightest touch of skin elicits severe pain.

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That’s called allodynia. Slight touch, just a breath of air, very very slight touch = SEVERE PAIN.

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Nerve pain when severe does that. It can be focal or widespread, every where, like his. He had the mentality of an 8 year old, but loved playing basketball. Leukemia brought him in, and you cannot see leukemia on scans or xrays. Are you going to tell a GOD that pain exists in people with leukemia? – malignant blood cells and pain. No, no, no.  No one of the leukemia service was ever allowed to call a pain consult at a world famous cancer hospital. You would be fired. Career over. Mom was trying to raise the money to treat this leukemia. $30,000 she did not have.

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So many case reports I could write. But it never changes. Patient calls after decades of intractable pain. I have had them taper off opioids slowly before I see them. I assess whether I want to take them as patients. They’ve been to Europe and across the US, the best places, nothing has helped. Even ketamine coma in Germany, it did not last but boy it caused PTSD. You cannot give those doses of a psychoactive drug to brain. Ketamine is a short acting drug. No matter how you give it. The dose is different for everyone. They burned through her threshold and PTSD could not even be discussed, it was so bad.

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I never use ketamine alone – only with certain combinations, and later, my patients may not need ketamine again. Pain free. Not everyone becomes pain free, but it occurs so regularly that it’s almost hard to fall off my chair so many times with the results. It used to be a surprise many years ago and I would always fall off my chair. It has become regular. No surprises. This is getting old and sad no one knows how to do it. Pradigm shifts do not just occur, and not without publications, studies, one slow drug after another. That’s not the way you are ever going to get results – study only one single drug for 10/10 pain present for years to decades. When disabled 30 years, the standard for research is to study one drug. That’s fine for mild conditions.

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It’s incomprehensible to think one drug alone is going to budge intractable intractable pain or depression. And difficult for me to understand patients who think one drug alone will do everything though they have failed so many classes of medications for years or for decades. One drug is not adequate to restore balance in the complex system of transmitters, receptors and DNA changes.

Wrong thin

Mechanical pain complicates things and must not be overlooked even though it may be “minor” compared to the bear in other parts of the body. Wrong thinking. All pain ends up upstairs in the big lake at top (brain). Not minor. Never has anyone found a pill that can do better than mechanics of the spine or limbs.

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My new patients have already been through every known form of interdisciplinary treatment at the worlds best pain clinics. You all know that entails a number of specialists as a team – you do the work, mind and body. Done by most of my patients before they see me. Past History.

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Once off opioids:

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My focus is on neuroimmunopharmacology. Read January 2011, the innate immune system. There must be a balance between anti-inflammatory cytokines and pro-inflammatory cytokines. The pro-inflammatory cytokines are too high, out of balance. Let’s modulate them, restore balance.

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Lovely to see people better. It makes me want to go to work. I suspect CRPS may respond best to these medications  but I have seen many other syndromes respond well – but remember, no treatment is 100%. I see impossible cases. It would be a miracle if anyone saw 100% remission or cure in their medical practice. But the combinations of medication I am using are certainly life saving for many of the toughest.

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Mechanics – so many patients have groaned when I said I felt they had to see the physical therapist I refer to. Groans. 30 years of P.T. never helped, they say. After seeing Bruce, they come back smiling. Bruce says these are basic things he does. Well, didn’t help my patients. Not one of the best university centers in the country where my patients have been for 3 to 6 months, never helped one bit. Bruce says it’s basic. Bruce is unique, certified orthopedic physical therapist – most never get that high degree. Decades after training at the famous rehab center Rancho Los Amigos from whence books were published, basics of orthopedics and rehab. After seeing Bruce, patients come back smiling, awed. I am shocked there is still so much crap P.T. out there. I thought all this changed after the new manual P.T. was brought to the US before 1980. Yikes.

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Opioids. How many use them for anxiety instead of pain, misreading and confusing what you are treating yourself with. They work great for anxiety, but America – you must learn better ways to cope and opioids are not to be used for anxiety. I hear the groans and downright refusals. A few years later, one of my older guys has nowhere to go, nothing helps but the opioids and his body will not tolerate more. Not one coping skill was going to get near him years ago. If his wife couldn’t do everything for him, then his caregiver would. He wasn’t going to have it. Granddad is a very proud businessman who cuts himself off from family, they should not see he has a walker.

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Opioids ain’t the answer. But sometimes we have no better – in limits. Only after other things, glial modulators should be tried first. How many of you have seen results with gabapentin? Maybe I just only see the ones who’ve failed everything.

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I frequently see people who are better off opioids than on, but then, then what do MD’s do about that pain that may be still 6 out of 10 or worse? They don’t have an answer. And are not curious to figure out what to do with the new science. They have been trained the old way. Nothing new but hope for a new drug from pharma some day.

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I am writing so far off track. I hope you understand a little of this rapidly changing antediluvian field and that some places are still in the Middle Ages where we don’t treat pain at all. How do they get away with that? It’s not a priority anywhere. NIH gave one half of 1% to pain research in 2008. Really? !?!!

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CASE REPORT

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Many paragraphs ago, I was planning to write to tell you about a case, 2nd visit so much better! and a lot of that is simply due to being off opioids 6 weeks after 6 years on them. Falling asleep from opioids for how many years—  imagine an MD taking on a patient who said they need a new pain doctor because their old doctor cut them back and will not give them a dose that helps. Makes you wonder if they were falling asleep and getting any oxygen to the brain. I find myself in that position when people call for new appointment. I hate to be the one to tell you I am not going to increase your opioid but many other pain doctors will. Soon this nice person sitting by my desk would have been one of those opioid deaths the headlines tell us about. This person today sitting next to me, happy she is off, and better!

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She is not drugged, pain is down and it changed character/quality, still rated 6 on a 10 scale, but she is doing more, actually waking up alive instead of zombie until 5 pm, walking. Walking – that’s the biggest.

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She has CRPS for 6 years as well as pain of the entire spinal axis. Failed gabapentin, Lyrica, Spinal cord stimulator – implanted 2013.

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At the first visit Jan 25, one month ago, she had tapered opioids in 3 weeks [far too fast], and was off for 6 days, lost 15 lbs – opioid  fluid retention. I ask people to be off 2 weeks before seeing me but she was in crisis. Most of the time she was lying down elevating BLE’s [both lower extremities] as it reduces pain in feet and RLE. She used to play two soccer games back to back without a sweat 6 years ago.

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“And I feel better. I always felt like my insides were swollen,” brain fog – unable to read, blurred vision – improving, “and the character of the pain seems different. The nerve pain used to feel like I had a huge halo and if you just touched the halo, not the skin, it was unbearable. I feel like the halo sensation was severely diminished. My sister also said I am walking better than I ever had – I was just weaning off then.“

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Before seeing me, she had been on MSContin 30 mg x 3/day with MSIR 15 twice daily or on methadone 80 mg in past. Pain then was rated 6. Today, 2nd visit, off opioids for 6 weeks, pain 6/10. But walking.

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2nd visit, 4 weeks later

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Her prior “biofeedback therapist told me I should write a book.” Helped in some ways, just to teach me better body mechanics to minimize pain. Did both temp and pulse and wore EKG-type patches on her back for muscle feedback.

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Now using desensitization – on dorsum hands able to use loufa, and can use a special rough soap on palms she could not tolerate before. Dorsum left hand is nearly normal.

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Pain on opioids was “6 to 7 but different character, I’m much improved now,” ranging 4 to 7, average 5. “I could live with this.” It’s lower. I used to always say I want to cut off my leg, and I haven’t said that in at least a month.

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Foot felt so swollen like it was gonna pop, and be so cold, made it very difficult with pins and needles to put a sock or shoes on. The occurrence is much less and when it happens it feels less severe.

Still has mild swelling “more what I perceive than what I see.” Her friends say she is not a zombie anymore. She wakes up and is out of bed.

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“If I concentrate very hard, I think I can walk without a limp, but I think I need some retraining.”

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We have barely begun much treatment. She is on her way back to life. 

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I have seen patients become even better simply off opioids.

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You must treat the whole person: the mind, body and spirit.

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Physical Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Biofeedback, Medication, Procedures.

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Compounded medications are the key. Thank the insurance industry for not supporting anything but opioids. I can’t even prescribe Namenda off-label for a patient with dementia because her dementia is not Alzheimers or Vascular, mild or moderate only. She has traumatic brain injury with CRPS and I prescribe Namenda (memantine) in double dose – good science behind that, published around 2001 when I starting prescribing for pain. Now I see the best migraine docs doing it in the last year. I don’t know when they began using it.

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Namenda (memantine) not covered. Unless … two things are possible.

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But compounded medications are essential for these combinations of medication. What is this country doing to its injured veterans? Opioids do not work. But their mechanical spine joints needs are serious and I know it is not being addressed because manual physical therapists are hard for me to find in this age, only 40 years since it was brought to the US from British Commonwealth and Scandinavian countries. Impossible to find, to trust you have a good one, and far beyond that, Bruce is awesome. How difficult is it to train better physical therapists? Or upgrade teaching from the theoretical that all these shiny new PhD’s in physical therapy. But get me the clinical experience, Orthopedic Physical Therapist because Bruce is awesome. No other word for what he has done to unwind the cause of CRPS in the ribs after thoracic surgery. Drugs can only get you so far. The mechanics become everything and they can take your body to more pain than you will ever dream of unless mechanics are properly addressed. My local patients may live 2 hours away from Bruce. That is not feaseable.

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Obesity.

Then, the elephant in the room. Guardian just now reports Penguins on a Treadmill, Study shows fat ones fall over more often than slim ones. How can we help those of us who will not be helped? Sanity does not prevail in politics and thou shalt not forbid 80 teaspoons of sugar in each can of “energy” drinks. America waddling onward into disablity. Sanity in politics. Behavior. As a great sage said: “You cannot uncurl the curly tail of a pig.” 

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Behavior is the hardest for me to change myself. I know. I don’t care how old you are, let’s wake up! and get you back to life. Off opioids. So many of us give up too little food on our plate or treats. You do not have to exercise to do that.

 

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The problem remains:

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You have to be rich enough to get decent care for intractable pain in this country. Rich enough to afford the compounded medications that used to be covered by insurance – do these guys cover anything anymore? The business reeks like the rest of the 1%. Same people. The big three: energy, pharma, insurance. Waves of anger across the country. The Middle Class is disappearing and they cannot afford an extra $300 a month for medication without family struggle. Stagnation.

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Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are riding on that anger, and Democrats are shifting to Trump who, as Jeb Lund writes, with his “gallimaufry of disconnected thoughts” has the money to put his bombast into action. He destroyed his running mates. Lund goes on:

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“a billionaire beholden to no one and able to abuse every disingenuous and pettifogging remora latched headfirst on the nation and sucking upward.”

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“If the system is already so broken that it abandoned you, its preservation is not your concern. Hell, burning it down might be what you want most.”

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“Anger has a clarity all its own. It renders most detail extraneous….It is not to be underestimated….”

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His “disgusting behavior gets paired with the sight of Trump humiliating establishment empty suits like ….X….stuffed shirts like…Y…. party pets like…Z….. and habitual liars like…W…..” Trump is “lying in service of exposing another government predator.” 

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He will destroy Clinton. The politician who panders to money will be blown away by Trump. People respect that.  No one cares what his policies are.

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This site is not for email.

If any questions, please schedule an appointment with my office.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please be aware any advertising on this free educational website is

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Exactly 100 Years Since Drugs Banned in US and Europe


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It’s exactly 100 years since drugs have been banned in the United States and Europe. 

 

ADDICTION

Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong

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| Johann Hari | TED Talks

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“We don’t impose that on the rest of the world.”

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“We take addicts and punish them and make them suffer because we believe that will deter them, to give them an incentive to stop.”

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“Is there a better way to help them?”

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He traveled to many places, including “to the only country that has ever decriminalized all drugs from cannabis to crap: Portugal.”

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“And I realized almost everything we ever knew about addiction is wrong.”

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I recommend reading Heroin Century. It’s an exciting read, extremely well written, actually a “page-turner.” It will help you to understand how prohibition creates addiction and drug wars and narco-states that now have more gold than the rest of the countries in the world combined.

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The book helps us understand why giving addicts free access to any drug of addiction they desire, in clean settings, where they can get the exact predictable doses they want, and have a rescue remedy available by trained personnel if needed, why that helps. Do the research. They do not die. They do not give each other or give their loved ones HIV/AIDS or hepatitis. It gets rid of drug cartels that have completely taken over many countries in the world. It reduces violence, theft, murder, guns. It may even help doctors stop treating cancer patients like addicts.

 

Once you calculate the cost of street drugs – each addict has to find more than $1 million each year to feed their addiction – you can easily understand how much violence this breeds. It is not only less expensive to give free drugs in supervised, clean addiction centers that also offer treatment for addiction if the addict desires, but addiction is a medical condition. Treatment is humane and it saves lives.

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Addiction is found in families of the poor, rich and middle class, in farmlands, suburbia and inner cities. One trillion dollars has gone to drug wars that breed more drugs and more war with no treatment. None. Now CDC wants to sharply reduce access to pain medicine for people with chronic pain including chronic cancer pain. That is the wrong answer to 28,000 plus deaths from opioids in 2014. Opioid deaths are growing and CDC sharply cuts everyone’s access to pain medication. Sweet. Solved!

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Simply ask if your healthcare insurance has ever covered behavioral therapy? And for how many short weeks do they limit treatment? That’s just the start. Most psychiatrists I know will not accept insurance because reimbursement is so low. And this country will not “pander” to anyone who has any emotional problems much less addiction. Buck up America! That’s the attitude in Congress, and insurers know exactly how to read the tone that elects them. It’s not hard, just ask anyone in your family who will likely say the same. Insurers see no reason voters think otherwise. And newspaper headlines do not lead with what is right, they  lead with what sells. Why else would a jury send a doctor to jail for 30 years for prescribing an opioid for pain – and call it murder. The first time in history. Murder charge for prescription opioid. 

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I have posted addiction tools to help doctors recognize addiction in their patients. Anyone could be an addict. Addicts can be very good actors. Pathological liars. Your cancer doctor will suspect everyone. That surely explains why my colleague took her grandmother to the oncologist at Cedars Sinai and heard the oncologist threaten her grandmother: “If you want pain medicine for your cancer, you’d better go somewhere else or I won’t treat you.” Don’t think this will not happen to you.

 

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

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If any questions, please schedule an appointment with my office.

This site is not for email.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please be aware any advertising on this free educational website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me.

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I realized

 

 

War On Opioids Is War On Patients With Pain: Obama Seeks $1.1 Billion to Fight Opioid Abuse


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A “war” on opioids is a war on patients with pain. The CDC just radically, across the board, cut access to opioid doses.

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Obama seeks to fight opioid abuse by arbitrarily limiting access to medication for 100 million patients with chronic pain. This does nothing to help the appalling lack of funding for research on chronic pain.

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Today, the New York Times announces President Obama is seeking $1.1 billion to fight the opioid epidemic.

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Obama had already signed a budget agreement in December for $400 million for the same.

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Imagine war on pain instead of war on addiction, war on drugs. If $1.1 billion were instead spent on finding better pain treatment— would addiction to opioids occur less often? Almost nothing is spent on pain research. Less than half of one per cent of NIH budget in 2008. There are over 20 different splice variants in the mu opioid receptor, some of which are not addicting – research from Gavril Pasternak at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Money for research is urgent.

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Federal agencies have heard about deaths of addicts, deaths of people with pain (addicts?) who overdosed on opioids, heard from families, from police officers but not from people with chronic pain who have no voice. There is no “BALANCE,” no conversation. Only after the American Pain Society appealed CDC’s radical plans, that CDC allowed one partial exclusion in dosage cuts: to allow opioid for cancer patients, but only if undergoing active cancer treatment. However, not for those cancer patients who are not in active cancer treatment, who have severe chronic pain resulting from the cancer itself that destroyed nerves or bone or spinal cord or brain, not for pain from cancer chemotherapy or radiation: you will suffer the same severe sharp drop in opioid allowed for treatment of your chronic pain.

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Time magazine in 2011 reported: “Serious, chronic pain affects at least 116 million Americans each year, many of whom are inadequately treated by the health-care system, according to a new report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The report offers a blueprint for addressing what it calls a “public health crisis” of pain.”

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“…and the chronic suffering costs the country $560 to $635 billion each year in medical bills, lost productivity and missed work.”

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“Yet the reports’ authors said they believed that they had actually underestimated the incidence of chronic pain — that which lasts 30 to 60 days or more and takes a toll on personal and professional life — because their data didn’t include people living in settings like nursing homes. Further, as baby boomers age, the rate of chronic pain increases daily.”

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Unless you have experienced pain yourself, it is very hard to understand pain in others and to accept the fact that disabling severe pain can exist without obvious signs of fracture or other obvious causes. And if you are among the tens of millions who cannot afford the $10,000 or $5,000 deductible for medicine and doctor visits, heroin is cheap and can be found everywhere – death is the risk thanks to the American healthcare system that will not cover cost of your needs.

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Before we have an effective alternative,

CDC wants to take opioids away.

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Yes, side effects are a huge problem, but thanks to some relief from opioids, people are working or able to function. Since the sudden DEA conference late October 2015 announcing limits, I have been deeply concerned about the direction the American government is taking to deny medication for people with chronic pain. I have posted ten times on this radical nationwide experiment since October! – see many articles at top left below my photo. The CDC suddenly imposed limits on opioid medication for treatment of chronic pain, setting the daily opioid dose to be 100 mg morphine or its equivalent. Yet for years healthcare insurers have refused almost all forms of treatment with the exception of opioids, see the detailed list of FACTS at that link. Now the opioids are the last frontier, the final culprit. And then what? . . . nothing?

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There is no data to support this radical nationwide experiment. Many concerns of the American Pain Society were completely ignored. The anti-opioidists have won.

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People with chronic pain seem to be content to lose or to think that a few pain specialists can win their denials for drug coverage, while healthcare insurers’ profits go up by refusing to pay, by demanding “prior authorizations” that require doctors to jump one hurdle of forms after another, until finally, always: DENIED. This has gone on for years, vast, time consuming denials rather than practice of medicine. The more expensive the drug, the quicker and more comprehensive are the denials.

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Bottom line, insurers profit. CDC is interested in deaths from opioids, and they think training doctors in opioids is the same as training in pain management. I have made more than enough arguments on this site for years, and spent more than 15 years in better ways to treat pain.

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Just this moment, three letters of denial from insurance for 20 mg morphine, not 100 mg, no, they are denying a mere 20 mg, for severe pain, multiple diagnoses causing pain, “in accordance with CMS (Centers for Medicare …) guidelines.” That is the “training” in opioids. Why waste our time giving MD’s credit for 4 or 5 hours of training, and obtaining millions of dollars from pharmaceutical companies who make opioids for this “training,” in order for the DEA to go around the country “training” us, when opioids are being denied anyway? Denials for 20 mg morphine is not training. 

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Americans need to take action through the American Pain Society.

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I have written recently about the radical CDC opioid guidelines:

 

Tapering patients without sound and attainable alternatives

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Tampering with patient autonomy

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Failure to provide informed consent

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Avoidance of coercion

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Nonmeleficence – Do No Harm – Primum non nocere

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Treating patients like numbers not individualized

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Intellectual and academic dishonesty

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Anti-opioid zealots supported by zealous insurers? 

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Containment of drug costs, not pain

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Failure to assess risk vs benefit

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etc, etc – refer to prior posts

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These arbitrary actions are mind numbing and hopeless until voices of millions become united. Elected officials cannot afford to ignore the mounting deaths from prescription opioids that are killing white people. Clearly they can afford to ignore 116 million Americans with serious chronic pain.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

If any questions, please schedule an appointment with my office.

This site is not for email.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please be aware any advertising on this free website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me.

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Opioids Kill White Americans – Is it opioids or suicide or addiction or untreated pain?


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Drug Overdoses Propel Rise in

Mortality Rates of Young Whites

New York Times

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Yes, white Americans, headlined yesterday by Gina Kolata and Sarah Cohen, New York Times science writers.  This article points to the highest mortality in young whites. See post early November on the Princeton researchers who reported deaths in white Americans. True, infants and children have severe pain, but this new article is on young white adults.


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Those who are anti-opioid and those who lost a loved one from opioids and heroin (an opioid that helps pain), will send in comments to the paper so that everyone can see how bad opioids are. Most patients who take opioids are too disabled from pain to write.

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Pain is stigmatized, opioids stigmatized, people in pain are stigmatized, doctors who treat pain are stigmatized. Any wonder 97% of medical schools do not teach pain management?

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Is it opioids or suicide or addiction or untreated pain that is killing our youth?

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How many suicides have opioids prevented? Americans make up less than 5% of the global population but consume 80% of the world’s supply of opioid prescription pills. What if your cancer pain now becomes severe intractable chronic pain? Cancer has been changing. The survival rate has increased, and many of these cancer patients treated with opioid therapy, survived the cancer but have residual chronic pain from cancer or its treatment. Surely they are among the 18,000 white people who died.

 

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Please read the earlier post this week on the ethics of opioid treatment, on

CDC’s imminent radical cut in opioid doses for 100 million patients nationwide.

Use search function above photo – type in CDC or DEA.

Your pain. Your lives. Their profit.

A thorny problem.

Tell us what happened to you. Doctors, tell us what you are seeing.

Have you been denied disability due to pain? Denied non-opioid treatment?

Chronic severe pain affects forty million Americans.

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Some insurers have denied or limited non-opioid treatments yet continued expensive opioids for decades. Has your insurance refused your treatment? Pain specialists have been barraged by denials for years.  Please comment below.

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As noted last week, I have spent 15 years developing alternatives to failed opioid treatment for chronic intractable pain and writing about that on these pages since April 2009. But opioids must be available as last resort.

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FACT:

  • Opioids killed almost 18,000 Americans in 2014 – prescription opioids, not street drugs.

  • 40 million American millions with severe pain, millions not thousands

  • 100 million with chronic pain.

  • CDC will imminently, radically cut everyone’s opioid dose

  • Health insurers will oblige, and incidentally show increased profit to shareholders

  • Suicide increases with untreated pain

  • Death rates for “whites ages 25 to 34 was five times its level in 1999”

  • This age group has more injuries from work and play that can lead to disability, job loss

  • Insurance is unaffordable or not purchased by many young adults

  • My own colleagues cannot afford high deductibles – prescriptions are now counted in deductibles, now unaffordable

  • Can you afford $20,000 per month for your opioid or is cheap heroin more affordable? Can you afford your usual drugs on Medicare once you are in the “donut hole.” Can you afford $28 per day, $840 per month for gout, when colchicine was 12 cents a day a couple years ago?

    • Do insurance denials increase liklihood of cheaper alternatives such as heroin or illegal marijuana resulting in death by drug dealer?

    • Do exhorbitant costs of opioids lead insurers to deny your medication?

  • Insurers have refused to pay for abuse-deterrent and tamper-resistant formulations of opioids

  •  Insurers have refused to pay for proven, widely accepted, nonopioid analgesics:

    • Lyrica

    • Horizant

    • Gralise

    • Cymbalta

    • Does it help the DEA and NIH and universities to teach those as nonopioid alternatives when they are not covered and not affordable the rest of your life?

    • Insurers deny every known compounded analgesic though low cost and effective, even for Tricare’s disabled veterans, even 5% lidocaine ointment for nerve pain, dextromethorphan, oxytocin, low dose naltrexone – Stanford published research on naltrexone years ago and now doing research on it again for CRPS, many many others

    • Insurers deny proven analgesics that are used by armed forces, university hospitals, select doctors, for life threatening pain: ketamine

    • Insurers deny off-label analgesics that may work better than opioids, e.g. memantine, an Alzheimers drug – can relieve intractable nerve pain (French publication on CRPS/RSD pain)

    • Insurers deny medications that reduce side effects of opioids, e.g. nonaddicting modafinil popular with students, to increase alertness when opioids cause drowsiness that may cause injury, death – gosh 10 years ago!

    • Is drowsiness the cause of some of those 18,000 opioid deaths?

  • Health insurers have refused coverage for treatments such as P.T., psychotherapy for coping skills, blocks.

  • Insurers deny medications that relieve the withering side effects of opioid withdrawal, making it impossible for many to taper off, e.g. Adderall, Wellbutrin (dopamine)

  • Cannabis, a nonopioid, classified by US Congress as Schedule I, illegal federally for human use, illegal to take on a plane or cross state/national borders, found on meteorites, made by sponges and some of the earliest living species on the planet, used for thousands of years for pain, while cocaine and methamphetamine are classified as Schedule II for prescription purposes.

  • Opioids, even vicodin, require monthly doctor visits, costs, monthly for sixty years

  • Why whites dying of opioids? People of color are denied prescription opioids. Stark data published for decades.

  • Heroin is an opioid, cheap and available; its “unAmerican” – used in England for pain, used thousands of years for pain

  • Untreated pain is one reason people turn to heroin, affordable is another

  • Violence and drinking and taking drugs can begin with chronic pain and job loss, not always the other way around, chicken egg

  • Opioids cost pennies to make, patient’s cost is $20,000 per month for Rx. Insurers paid what the market would bear… in the old days. Who is trapped in the middle of this fight for shareholder profit?

    • How many of us would take 2 or 4 extra pain pills when pain spikes to extreme for days?

    • If you are disabled, can you afford insurance or expensive prescription drugs?

  • “Poverty and stress, for example, are risk factors for misuse of prescription narcotics,” Dr. Hayward said.

  • When you are not getting enough sleep and rest, working too many hours overtime or 3 jobs, inflammation and pain spikes

  • Misuse of opioids in > 33% (perhaps 48%?) of cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in high resource settings when insurance was better, published 1990’s.

  • Cancer pain – usually time limited. Intractable chronic pain – forever.
    .How many jobs will be lost and how many suicides when CDC imminently imposes strict cuts in opioids?

  •  DEA recently requires every pain patient taking opioids, including those with cancer, to be diagnosed “Opioid Dependent” — not only addicts – the same diagnosis for pain patients includes addicts. The term “addiction” has been equated to dependence by most psychiatrist over the past 30 years. It may be interesting to see what criteria are used to define “addiction” if any, in DSM V. Some important members acknowledge that the addition of dependence into addiction in DSM-III was a mistake….the DSM-V criteria will get rid of “abuse”, and will include craving. it will also apparently eliminate the legal/criminal criteria. DSM comments are extracted from here, with many good arguments on this epidemic, such as: “The US is leading the way in eradicating pain, but in doing so has created an unwanted byproduct: painkiller addiction.”
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    What would you want if you had intense chronic pain?

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    “For too many, and especially for too many women,” she said, “they are not in stable relationships, they don’t have jobs, they have children they can’t feed and clothe, and they have no support network.”

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    “It’s not medical care, it’s life,” she said. “There are people whose lives are so hard they break.”

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Opioids kill – or is it untreated pain?

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Pain kills, a maleficent force.

No one can help you. Only you have the tools to do it

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Alarms went off for me on radical opioid cuts in October and I posted when

DEA suddenly held conferences across the nation on sharply cutting opioid doses.

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How many of us especially seniors and male persons refuse to learn or use coping skills that

reduce pain without medication?

How many of us refuse to diet and lose weight to reduce pain and/or disability?

Politicians are sued if they tax sales of sugar loaded soft drinks.

One single can of soda per day exceeds acceptable sugar limits for entire day.

Snacks need to say much much time it takes to burn off fat –

quarter of large pizza 449 calories, walk off 1 hr 23 min;

large coke 140 calories, walk off 30 minutes.

Foods can be anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory.

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Obesity is pro-inflammatory.

So is lack of sleep.

People who sleep with animals in their bed and their bedroom, I’m talking to you.

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Yes, pain is in your mind.

Chronic back pain is no longer in the back, it’s in the brain, the pain matrix.

It’s behavior, not just pills. Pain is an emotional and psychosocial  and spiritual experience.

Work on it! Constantly.

Lord forbid we should teach stress reduction and meditation in grade school

and improve school lunches before kids start looking for heroin for pain.

Yes, kids have chronic pain, are sleep deprived, often obese.

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Isn’t this all un-American?

Injuries, pain, habits, pace activities, learn to avoid and treat pain – start young.

Taxpayers end up paying for ignorance and disability.

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I will soon be posting published research that documents health insurers have refused to pay for nonopioid treatment and how health care policy aimed at all people with chronic pain leads to suicide when drastic cuts are made to opioid doses – Washington State we are looking at you. Florida you’ve made headlines and 60 Minutes TV specials years ago.

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Do please comment below if your health insurer has refused medication, physical therapy, psycho-therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, stress reduction, for chronic pain.

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How many of you have been denied social security disability by doctors who don’t know how to diagnose RSD, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome? Let me know. I will pass on that data to researchers collecting information on untreated pain.

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I have written many times on these pages, and more often than ever these past years as insurers cut back more and more. This will rapidly get worse. We need your data.

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Please send in your stories. You are not alone.

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So many issues. Steven Passik, PhD, was interview by Lynn Webster, MD – emphasis in bold is mine. Dr. Passik pioneered in management of chronic pain and pain in addicts. He has read some of Dr. Webster’s book. “You’re calling, the need for love and connection and all those things in the book, I’ve been – what’s largely lacking is outright, at times animosity towards people with pain and I think there’s a lot of projections sometimes because the therapy – the stigmatized disease – treated in stigmatized people with stigmatized drugs and interventions and so, it’s like a hat trick of stigma.  I’ve been to my share of pain conferences lately that people are really talking about, “Okay, well there’s come a realization that opioid-only, drug-only therapy, is really not going to work to the best majority of this population.  It doesn’t [mean] that opioids should be ignored and we’ll get into that later, but that they’re going to work in isolation and should never been expected to.  And then they start advocating things that are a lot like supportive and cognitive behavioral therapy and to be practiced basically by the primary care physician or the pain doctor.  And the idea that, to me that’s in a way comical because as a psychologist myself, we’re dealing with the system wherein cognitive behavioral therapists can’t even get paid to do cognitive behavioral therapy.  And so, I think something’s got to give, and I think one of the main obstacle is that – and this really gets into the next question as well but I’ll come back to that more specifically – but when people have a set of whatever chronic condition that involves psychiatric motivational, lifestyle, spiritual as well as nociceptive elements, and we put a premium only on what you do to people, prescribed to people, put in people, take out of people, and then that’s only going to relegate the other kinds of treatment or the other kinds of ways in which a caring physician and treatment team would spend time with the patient to the very poorly reimbursed category.  You’ll always going to have a problem with people being treated with the kind of respect that should go along with treating that kind of an illness and it’s not unique even to chronic pain.  I’ve seen treatment scenarios with people who are taking care of people with pancreatic cancer, have an afternoon clinic that has 45 people in it.  I mean how you – something’s got to give in our healthcare systems and I do think that patients are going to have to stand up and say, “I don’t want to be on a conveyor belt.  I want to spend some time and make a connection with the people that are taking care of me and it’s not just about the piece paper in my hands, for a prescription or that I walk out the door with.”

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Clematis Blue.

 The New York Times article further says:

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…This is the smallest proportional and absolute gap in mortality between blacks and whites at these ages for more than a century,” Dr. Skinner said. If the past decade’s trends continue, even without any further progress in AIDS mortality, rates for blacks and whites will be equal in nine years, he said….

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…Not many young people die of any cause. In 2014, there were about 29,000 deaths out of a population of about 25 million whites in the 25-to-34 age group. That number had steadily increased since 2004, rising by about 5,500 — about 24 percent — while the population of the group as a whole rose only 5 percent. In 2004, there were 2,888 deaths from overdoses in that group; in 2014, the number totaled 7,558….

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…For young non-Hispanic whites, the death rate from accidental poisoning — which is mostly drug overdoses — rose to 30 per 100,000 from six over the years 1999 to 2014, and the suicide rate rose to 19.5 per 100,000 from 15, the Times analysis found….

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…For non-Hispanic whites ages 35 to 44, the accidental poisoning rate rose to 29.9 from 9.6 in that period. And for non-Hispanic whites ages 45 to 54 — the group studied by Dr. Case and Dr. Deaton — the poisoning rate rose to 29.9 per 100,000 from 6.7 and the suicide rate rose to 26 per 100,000 from 16, the Times analysis found….

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…Eileen Crimmins, a professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California, said the causes of death in these younger people were largely social — “violence and drinking and taking drugs.” Her research shows that social problems are concentrated in the lower education group.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice,

diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

If any questions, please call the office to schedule an appointment.

This site is not email for personal questions.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please be aware any advertising on this free website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me.

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CDC Will Create New Injuries & Suicide with Unprecedented Experiment in Sudden Opioid Changes – Prediction


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Tapering patients without sound and attainable alternatives

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Tampering with patient autonomy

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Failure to provide informed consent

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Avoidance of coercion

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Nonmeleficence – Do No Harm – Primum non nocere

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Treating patients like numbers not individualized

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Intellectual and academic dishonesty

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Anti-opioid zealots supported by zealous insurers? 

Containment of drug costs, not pain

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Failure to assess risk vs benefit

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Chronic pain has long term consequences including

brain atrophy and memory loss

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We have a duty to preserve life, and relieve suffering.

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Is it morally wrong to do nothing when almost 18,000 Americans died of prescription opioids in 2014?

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Is it morally right to radically chop the opioid dose of everyone in severe pain?

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Are we relying on drugs rather than coping skills and physical therapy?

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CDC will profoundly limit opioid doses to 100 mg/day morphine maximum or its equivalent for severe pain.  Is this safe? Ethical? See several previous posts on the dosage limits and CDC proposal.

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Michael E. Schatman, PhD, who edited “Ethical Issues in Chronic Pain Management,” lectures nationally on optimal treatment for chronic pain when ethical principals collide, has published “The role of the health insurance industry in perpetuating suboptimal pain management.” Medical ethics is not a business model of “cost containment and profitability.” His essay “addressed some of the insurance industry’s efforts to delegitimize chronic pain and its treatment as a whole.” He examined the industry’s “self-serving strategies, which include failure to reimburse services and certain medications irrespective of their evidence-bases for clinical efficacy and cost-efficiency; ‘carving out’ specific services from interdisciplinary treatment programs; and delaying and/or interrupting the provision of medically necessary treatment.”

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Many of the above ideas are taken from the course on ethics he taught May 2015 at the American Pain Society annual meeting.

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I have spent 15 years developing alternatives to failed opioid treatment for chronic intractable pain and writing about that on these pages since April 2009. When patients have failed all known treatments, low cost  alternatives to opioid medications become unaffordable when not covered by insurance – cost may be $300/month out-of-pocket rather than a $30 copay for opioids costing $17,000/month. How many can afford $300/month for the rest of their lives when they are on disability with severe chronic pain?

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When there are no options, opioids are the last resort.

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There is no argument opioids are often misused when there are better choices of treatment but resources are lacking, even more so in rural and under-served communities. And studies show lack of evidence of benefit with opioid treatment — but my patients would not be able to work or care for themselves if not on opioid therapy.

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Opioids cause pain by creating inflammation in the innate immune sytem (brain/spinal cord).

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There is no argument that opioids can cause central sensitization – that means higher doses cause worse pain which is misinterpreted as requiring more opioid when instead pain would improve with less. Opioids cause increasing numbers of deaths (almost 18,000 deaths in USA in 2014 from prescription opioids, NOT street drugs). Opioids may lead to addiction and diversion. Efficacy of many drugs is often compromised by some form of toxicity or need to add drugs to treat side effects, often denied by insurers.

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Likewise there is misuse of surgery, procedures, nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulators, pumps which can lead to paralysis, anxiety, depression, insomnia and death. How many billions are spent on spine surgeries done simply for pain that is not surgically treatable?

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Opioids may be treating anxiety, mental health problems or addictions, but they also serve an important function in relieving pain. They may be the only option many patients have. Opioid taper can uncover or cause PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, fear of withdrawal symptoms, inability to cope. Poorly managed or sudden opioid withdrawal can lead to severe hypertension, stroke, heart attack and/or intolerable side effects of substitute drugs.

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The disabled insurance system has shut down patient autonomy, by closing more than 1,000 interdisciplinary pain programs — now only 70. And are those truly interdisciplinary? or are they strictly procedure oriented with $50,000 pumps and spinal cord stimulators that have failed to work for my patients? Have they ever shown long lasting efficacy for 5 years? Have you seen the

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“Chronic pain a malefic force”

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“Pain kills”

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John Liebeskind, MD

Past President American Pain Society

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Tapering opioids in chronic pain is very different from tapering opioids in addicts and much more difficult than treating cancer pain.

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Unlike cancer pain, severe chronic intractable pain is endless, lifelong, day and night, often associated with depression, insomnia, anxiety, PTSD, hypertension, and disability caused by severe pain.

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Having taught cancer pain at an 800 bed cancer hospital, cancer pain may be easier to treat simply because most cancer pain is acute pain which responds better to opioids than chronic pain. Cancer is often treatable and pain resolves. And insurers are not battering doctors by denying medications for pain every couple months as they do for chronic pain. Stress! Denials nonstop! Paperwork instead of practice of medicine. Doctors cannot take the constant battering and leave.

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This unprecedented radical frightening cut in medication comes from the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

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The CDC excluded cancer patients from this new chopping block.

Will that come next?

Sequoia wildflower

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QUESTIONS FOR THE CDC & ANTI-OPIOIDISTS

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 Where is the data? What is the risk/benefit ratio for this radical cut in dosage? There is no evidence upon which to base their chosen dose.


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40 million Americans have severe pain, 17.6% of the adult population, not counting children with severe pain or adults with moderate pain.

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Will the CDC monitor the increase in auto accidents that occurs from untreated pain? People with incident pain have slowed reaction times due to pain. Despite normal strength and cognitive function, they may not be able to move muscles quickly due to untreated pain. They may not be able to move at all when severe pain clouds even the ability to think.

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Will CDC monitor risk of suicides from untreated pain? Columbia University recently published on suicide in only one pain syndrome, but there are many forms of severe pain, not just one.

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When will NIH and CDC fund research on medications besides opioids for treatment of pain?

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Will CDC monitor how many days of lost work, lost jobs from opioid withdrawal?

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Will CDC monitor how many new injuries occur from untreated pain? My patients may be perfectly strong, but cannot prevent falling if sudden pain prevents them from stabilizing their hips, legs, or spine.

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How suddenly do they demand this be implemented? Insurers have already been cutting opioids for months and allow 30 days on the last prescription. What then?

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Will CDC recommend that insurers provide medications for opioid withdrawal?

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Will CDC recommend that insurers allow payment of  medications such as Wellbutrin to replace dopamine for the depression malaise that occurs after opioid withdrawal that may last for one year or more?

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Will CDC recommend admission to hospital programs when patients are unable to suddenly drop opioid dose to the magical 100 mg without supervised inpatient care?

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Will CDC have nationwide training programs for doctors to teach how to deal with and study the sequellae of this unprecedented population experiment in suicide, new injuries, depression and hopelessness in patients and even physicians?

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Will CDC recommend anything for untreated pain after opioid reduction?

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Emily Dickinson

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Pain has an element of blank;

It cannot recollect

When it began, or if there were

A day when it was not.

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It has no future but itself,

Its infinite realms contain

It’s past, enlightened to perceive

New periods of pain.

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HamiltonFallsSequoiaHighSierraTrail

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice,

diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

If any questions, please call the office to schedule an appointment.

This site is not for email.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please be aware any advertising on this free website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me.

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Be the change you wish to see – or walk away. Money at NIH


 

 

A Turning Point

 

$$$$$ MONEY $$$$$

 

at NIH

 

May not come this way again

 

NIH developing

5-year NIH-wide Strategic Plan

 

 

 

Donate to organizations, below

They can provide feedback to NIH via the

RFI Submission site


 

 

 

John C. Liebeskind, 1935 – 1997, distinguished scholar and researcher, past president of the American Pain Society, had the radical idea that pain can affect your health.

 

Research decades ago by an Israeli team at UCLA and others had shown “that pain can accelerate the growth of tumors and increase mortality after tumor challenge.” Decades ago Professor Liebeskind lectured all over the country: Pain kills.

 

He wrote an editorial in 1991, summarizing a life’s work:

 

“Pain and stress can inhibit immune function.”

 

 

Quoting John Bonica, the father of modern pain management, he wrote:

 

“Bonica has long argued that the term ‘chronic benign pain’ (used in distinction to pain associated with cancer) is seriously misleading.  Chronic pain is never benign, he contends; “it is a ‘malefic force’ that can devastate its victims’ lives and even lead to suicide.”

 

 

Liebeskind continues, “It appears that the dictum ‘pain does not kill,’ sometimes invoked to justify ignoring pain complaints, may be dangerously wrong.”

 

Pain mediates immune function

 

Importantly

 

  Opioids mediate the suppressive effect of stress on natural killer cells,

 

 published in 1984, immune system.

 

Alcohol increases tumor progression, 1992, immune system.

 

It used to be news.

He did not live to see change.

 

People just want to go on doing what they’re doing.

They want business as usual.

 

 

After 1991, we saw the great discoveries of neuroinflammation, pioneered by Linda Watkins, PhD, the early understanding of the innate immune system, its involvement in chronic pain and depression, and a few weeks ago, a British team showed neuroinflammation in teens with early signs of schizophrenia and DNA markers.

 

 

Major Depression has the same neuro-inflammation found in chronic pain, often responding to same medications, in particular glial modulators – immune modulators. Now, perhaps early schizophrenia will respond to glial modulators, reducing inflammation seen on scan in teens, before they become homeless and burned out by antipsychotic drugs

 

Inflammation out of control destroys neurons

 

Fire on the brain

 

 

We must be the change we wish to see

 

It’s not just the Bern. It’s been starting. Forces are finally coming together. We want change. It’s been too much. Too long.

 

We won’t take it anymore.

 

I figure if I tell you about it, you might just mention it to someone to pass it on. That is all. One small action may lead to change. Activate inputs to the NIH strategic plan.

 

 

~ Action needed ~

 

Prices of drugs becoming unaffordable

No new drugs for pain or major depression

Research to repurpose existing drugs

Expose the politics destroying our compounding pharmacies

 

Above all

The #1

Major Priority:

Request NIH to solicit priority call for research on

Glial modulators of the

Innate immune system

 

 

Why?

 

Glia modulate

chronic pain, major depression

and almost every known disease

 

Glia are your innate immune system

 

Inflammation kills

 

 

 

 Stress kills. Inflammation kills.

 

 

Pain kills

 

In the 1970’s, Professor Liebeskind and an Israeli team at UCLA injected cancer cells to two groups of rats that had sham surgery. Cancer spread much faster and killed far sooner in the group with poor treatment of surgical pain.

 

 

~ Pain kills ~

 

He lectured all over the country

 

Forty five years ago

 

 

I’m gonna be dead before I see this country do anything but unaffordable opioids and the magical ineffective trio of gabapentin, Lyrica, Cymbalta to treat chronic pain. The devastating, blind, nationwide emphasis does nothing to address the cause: inflammation, the innate immune system gone wild.


 

 

Innate immune system in action

 

Untreated pain suppresses the hormone systems too.

 

Untreated depression – same inflammation kills lives.

 

Where’s the money?

 

We are the change we wish to see. It’s pitiful I am so lazy. Suddenly, too late, we may need something, but, aha, no new drugs in the pipeline.

 

 

 

~ Make a joyful cry to NIH ~

 

They are soliciting input from professional societies

 

If your condition has failed all known drugs for pain or major depression, then make a joyful cry to NIH, now, before they give away all that nice new $$$$$money$$$$$.

 

 

Follow and join

 

American Pain Society

 

 

International Association for Pain

celebrating 40 years of pain research

 

 

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association

help for CRPS/RSD  

 

 

 

The key to CRPS/RSD pain will apply to all forms of chronic pain, in particular the most difficult form, neuropathic pain. RSDSA funds research into all forms of chronic pain, not only Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS/RSD). Their scientific board members are not funded by opioid money.

 

 

 

Exactly

what is the annual cost of care

as fraction of GDP

for the growing population of Americans on opioids

for one year, for lifetime?

 

 

People are dying from prescription opioids and those who need them find they don’t work well enough. Prescriptions opioid costs must be a huge fraction of the medical costs in the United States GDP. You are required  to see a doctor every single month each year, often lifelong, just for one opioid, 12 months a year x 30 years x tens of millions of people and increasing – a growth industry. Not even counting $600 a day for the opioid, what the cost of monthly visits for 30 years? Not counting the army of DEA, FDA, CDC agents watching the opioids like a hawk. We all have to be sharp, addiction is growing. Addiction aside, deaths from prescription opioids are shaking up the CDC forcing urgent change this coming month.

 

 

 

Opioids do not work well for chronic pain

We need better

It’s not just the $600/day price

They just don’t work

 

 

donate

 

 

Raise a joyful noise at NIH now or write back at us readers with comments and better suggestions. Tell others what you’d like to see. Which politicians do you know would be most interested in this at national levels and organizations?

 

You may never see this change unless you do it now. Other forces will get this new money.

 

 

Turning point now

May not return

 

 

We are at a turning point and we will fail to catch the sail that’s coming fast to carry all research money in their shiny big stem cell direction. They never look back.

 

 

There is so many medications we can use today, FDA approved drugs that can be re-purposed and applied to recent cutting edge science. Someone must pay to do the work to study this.

 

 

Re-purpose old drugs

 

 

Stanford just showed a popular generic drug improved recovery of stroke paralysis in mice to begin at 3 days rather than 30. Old drug, new purpose, of course more years of testing to confirm in humans. Brilliant team applying new science.

 

 

Request
NIH to solicit a

Special Invitation

for 30 good protocols to

repurpose old drugs

 

 

Hundreds of old drugs, already approved, could be involved in mechanisms we have recently learned about. Speak up or money will go to shiny new stem cells. None for chronic pain or major depression. No company will find this profitable – it must be funded by NIH. A popular generic sleeping pill can bring astonishing return from stroke paralysis.

 

 

Congress has not opened this new money to NIH in many long years. How often will there be extra money?

 

 

donate

 

 

Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Principal Deputy Director, NIH, solicits you to

Review the NIH Strategic Initiative Plan and their

Request for Information (RFI) and the NIH website

and provide your feedback via the RFI Submission site

 

 

This is for “stakeholder organizations (e.g., patient advocacy groups, professional societies) to submit a single response reflective of the views of the organization/membership as a whole. We also will be hosting webinars to gather additional input. These webinars will be held in early to mid-August.

 

 

 

Be the change you wish to see

Donate to those organizations

to solicit the change you wish to be

 

 

 

Happy New Year

Rejoice!

There’s money at NIH

 

 

 

 

 

 

The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

If any questions, please schedule an appointment with my office.

This site is not for email.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

 

 

 

 

NYT Editorial Today : No Justification for High Drug Prices


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NYT EDITORIAL TODAY  ~

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No Justification

for

High Drug Prices

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You know what’s coming next for you and me.

It’s been getting worse for years.

It’s pointless to appeal insurance for coverage.

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“Prices in many cases far exceed what’s needed to cover the costs of research and clinical trials.

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…often increase prices 10 percent or more a year, far faster than inflation, straining the health care system.

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Experts have proposed several ways to reduce drug prices, like fostering greater competition among drug companies or allowing the government to negotiate lower prices. Encouraging the development of innovative drugs and setting prices in ways that make lifesaving medicines affordable to all are not mutually exclusive ideas.”

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Fed up with it.

The greed is insurmountable.

The costs are unsupportable.

All things must pass.

Sell your stock in pharma unless you support this bubble of high fliers.

 

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