Cannabis Overwhelmingly Preferred over Opioids for Pain – UC Berkeley / HelloMD Opioid Study


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Congratulations and thanks to HelloMD’s email, posted below, that describes a new study. They are doing important work for people who can be helped by cannabis. We need help in the treatment of chronic pain.

I’ve seen pharma pressure pain specialists to refuse to treat patients who also use cannabis. For Pete’s sake it helps relax deep muscle like nothing else, helps anorexia, can bring up extremely low energy a tiny bit, helps depression, and pain. Shock and awe. What an awful thing to pressure doctors to do just to punish the plant based industry and extinguish the competition. I’m sure TV ads brainwash even more. Professionals in healthcare and politics need our help to know good studies already exist and even without that rigorous proof, our dispensaries can recreate what the world has safely used for thousands of years.

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HelloMD is a trusted source of information. 

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The HelloMD Advisor

Opinions from Industry Experts


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Hi Nancy,

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Yesterday we announced the results of our landmark study examining the use of cannabis as a substitute for opioid and non-opioid based pain medication. Performed in collaboration with University of California Berkeley, HelloMD surveyed 3,000 participants from our patient database….[– click on below link to article]

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[They showed the]

overwhelming majority of cannabis patients (92%) prefer using cannabis to opioids when managing their chronic pain.”

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Your participation in HelloMD studies is invaluable as it takes us one big step closer to showing healthcare professionals, elected officials and the public at large the potential for cannabis to alleviate the opioid crisis our nation is experiencing.

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HelloMD also recently launched in New York state offering patients the ability to get their medical marijuana certification online. This week we highlight PharmaCannis, a shining example of the eastern US cannabis scene, with five dispensaries statewide, professionals from the pharmaceutical industry, and an eye towards making cannabis a part of the future of healthcare.

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Finally, we highlight Dr. Gary Richter, the ‘Cannabis Pet Vet’, who has made it his mission to help animals and their owners lead happy, healthy lives.

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Be happy & healthy,

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Pamela Hadfield – Co Founder

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This is an important study for people to learn about and to help our legislators understand we need help to use this plant for billions who are needlessly suffering. We all need help. And simple is best. This medication has been safely used by grandmothers for thousands of years. Silly to think we cannot begin. Silly to deny millennia of use. We need help:

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  1. Low cost medication is essential.

  2. Healthcare insurers must reimburse patients for the cost of medical marijuana. This is done in New Mexico and should be in every state.

  3. We must all stop weaponizing a simple healing plant that can be effective. Truth beats fear. Every study helps to open minds.

  4. Support the work of good groups like HelloMD, NORML

  5. Get politics out of science and healthcare

  6. Teach our doctors – require 1 hour CME for all who see patients.

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I have so many senior patients terrified to try cannabis, and one who just had a once-in-a-lifetime result with a few cannabis drops under the tongue. She worked with a dispensary that mixed a personalized ratio of THC:CBD. It Worked! Nothing else had, her life spent in years of constant headache. It’s gone! yet she is still terrified of cannabis.

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Such has been the insanity about the American gung-ho opioid boosters vs the shoot ’em dead plant loving criminals and addicts – that’s what these little old ladies think they have become. Criminals and addicts. This sweet woman’s intractable migraine has taken her life every day for years, failing to respond to the best care in the nation, is now gone with cannabis! Yet she’s going to have a heart attack because for decades the GOP has trained her to think she’s a criminal addict. She was referred by one of the foremost migraine experts whose final suggestion was to try cannabis. A few weeks later when she came to her first visit with me, she was headache free.

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Had her family doctor been able to recommend someone who works with cannabis patients many years ago, she would not have wasted her life and fortune. It can be simple and life-saving to try, and always nice to have a helpful hand from the dispensary to show you how.  Again HelloMD helps with that.

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I am very grateful for HelloMD. For their great organization, a smoothly developed, simple, cost effective model that is affordable and convenient for my patients who are too ill to travel or simply too uncomfortable at the thought of hanging with a waiting room crowd so far from their better healed comfort zone.

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After all, they don’t look disabled, but I see disabled kids as young as 8 through 90’s.

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Do not judge disability by how someone looks. Young disabled veterans wearing artificial legs, have been attacked for not looking disabled when they park in disability spaces.

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Bring peace and healing to all whenever you can. Learn to use the plant and to enjoy the plant too. To be able to let off the weight of the world…. that alone is healing. Nothing is working right. Well, so what? Let go. We have to let go, let peace, breathe. You know you do the best you can as always, so now do the best and let go. Bring peace.

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Cannabis is a sacred plant. Treat it with respect. Fear is ignorance. Teach the truth. 

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“Democracy dies in darkness.”

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Bring peace and healing

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

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Avoid opioid use in surgery to reduce postop pain


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Science for years has confirmed that opioids trigger inflammation and that creates pain. Trauma and surgery also create inflammation that leads to pain. How logical is it then to continue use of sufentanil for anesthesia when it is the most highly potent opioid 500 to 1,000 times stronger than morphine. Where is the logic in creating pain by using sufentanil as the anesthetic? A new one on the market will be 10,000 times stronger than morphine. Inflammation is not always easy to reset after you strafe the innate immune system with an opioid.

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Why is ketamine not used more often for surgical anesthesia when we know ketamine profoundly lowers the inflammatory response thus reducing pain more than ever. Studies for years have shown that even a small dose of ketamine reduces postop pain. This is not new.

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A study needs to be done comparing patients who receive no opioids. At least this study showed that when fewer opioids are used, pain scores are 37% lower than if more had been given. Patients given higher doses of opioid, had higher analgesic requirements postop. That increases the risk of persistent chronic pain and the tragic risk of addiction.

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Opioids inflict known lasting harm, pain and suffering, perhaps disability and addiction.

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Reduced opioid use in surgery linked to improved pain scores
Written by Brian Zimmerman

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After anesthesiologists at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville began administering fewer opioids to patients during surgeries, patients’ self-reported pain levels dropped, according to a study led by three UVA anesthesiologists.
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For the study, the team examined 101,484 surgeries that took place in the UVA Health System from March 2011 to November 2015. During this time period, the amount of opioids administered via general anesthesia at the system was reduced by 37 percent.
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For the same time period, self-assessed patient pain scores recorded in post-op recovery units dropped from an average of 5.5 on a 10-point scale to an average of 3.8, marking a 31 percent improvement.

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One of the study’s leaders, UVA anesthesiologist Marcel Durieux, MD, PhD, said the impetus behind the pain score improvements is likely attributable to several factors. One, previous research has indicated opioids can ultimately make people more sensitive to pain. And two, the increased use of non-opioid painkillers like lidocaine and acetaminophen during surgeries at UVA was likely effective.

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….”There is very clear evidence that people can become opioid-dependent because of the drugs they get during and after surgery,” said Dr. Durieux. “I think that by substantially limiting opioids during surgery, we’ve made an important step in addressing that problem.”

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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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This site is not for email and not for appointments.

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

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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.

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This site is not for email and not for appointments.

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

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

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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.

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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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Opioid Production in US Cut 25% by DEA in 2017


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The DEA regulates how much opioid is allowed to be made each year. Production will be cut by 25% in 2017. Some will be cut by more than 25%, for example hydrocodone will be cut 34%.

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The reasons given are that demand is falling and the opioid epidemic is not. Congress of course could think about funding addiction treatment and offering clean injection sites for addicts such as Vancouver’s.

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The order will be published tomorrow in the Federal Register.

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In June 2016, Senator Richard Durbin interrogated Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), during a Senate Judiciary Hearing.

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Durbin has introduced legislation to fight opioid abuse. One section of the bill would require DEA to consider opioid addiction when setting production quotas. If annual quotas increase, DEA would be required to justify that in writing, explaining why the bump outweighs the risk of having more addictive drugs available.

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Opioid death stats demonstrate the ravages of the epidemic.
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About 47,000 people died from overdoses in 2014, Rosenberg said. That’s 129 every day. About 61 percent were due to prescription opioid and heroin.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice,

diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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Opioid Overdoses ~130 every day, the capacity of a Boeing 737 – naloxone $4,500, up from $690 in 2014. You pay


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LA Times reports

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As need grows for painkiller overdose treatment, companies raise prices

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$4,500

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$4,500.

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$4,500 for naloxone manufactured by Kaleo, Richmond Virginia. Naloxone reverses opioid overdose.

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That seems to be their Evzio two-pack, two single-use injectors of naloxone in a hard case handy to carry in a pocket for someone who has an opioid overdose.

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Each has a 0.4 mg injection that last 2 or 3 minutes each, just long enough to call an ambulance.

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A drug that costs pennies, sold as a 2-pack for $690 in 2014, then $900, now $4,500 as of Feb. 1.

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“…Columbus, Ohio, said the city’s firefighters last year used 2,250 naloxone doses, or about 6 doses a day — at a cost of $147,000. Recently, Columbus also stocked the drug in 115 police cruisers….”

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FDA approved Evzio in April 2014 after granting fast-track status. Fast track now means gold mine status. 

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Naloxone was first approved in 1971.

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“In July 2005 its average wholesale price for a vial of the injectible drug was $1.10, according to Truven Health Analytics.

By 2014, the price was almost $19 a vial.” 

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Medical costs are astronomical, insurance premiums are up, insurance deductibles are $5,000 to $10,000 for many. Police, fire department and EMT’s are using naltrexone to save lives and lower ER visits.

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Taxes are high. Where is the initiative and innovation among EMT’s, police, fire? How many hours per day do they get paid full salary to work out at the gym and stay fit while they sit and wait for the next call to rescue an addict who overdosed. Then retire on double pensions if they hold two city jobs. While they wait for next calls, could they not fill syringes from a vial of naloxone? How much do taxpayers pay for these overpriced robotic filled syringes at factories.

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Pharma is raking it in. Pharma’s blood sucking 1% are overdosing on costs. Many of my patients with intractable pain who are on opioids were not able to afford $690. They are not addicts but any dose of opioid can kill. Your tax dollar pays for naloxone for addicts found dead, unresponsive.

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We are all paying a fortune for inexcusable pharma costs. Costs for millions of drug addicts all over the country. Costs for prescription medications. Congress unwilling to address anything that would cut the flow of donations to their coffers from pharma.

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Just remember, in Israel, it is illegal for corporate lobbyists to contact any politician.

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“Late last year, Adapt introduced a naloxone nasal spray named Narcan for a average wholesale price of $150 for two units, according to Truven.”

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That is a BD syringe fitted with a flared BD adapter at the tip to fit the nostril. It requires the user be capable of pushing the 1 mL syringe so the liquid is sprayed into nostril.

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For Pete’s sake. I’ve been prescribing medicine in these BD syringes with nasal adapter for years. Is there no EMT smart enough to make and stock their own supply to use for emergencies?

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“…as the demand for naloxone has risen — overdose deaths now total 130 every day, or roughly the capacity of a Boeing 737 — the drug’s price has soared.
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…Increased access to naloxone is among the measures included in federal legislation that Congress passed last week in response to the painkiller deaths. The White House has said that President Obama plans to sign the bill.
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Last month, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) wrote to Kaleo, Rancho Cucamonga’s Amphastar Pharmaceuticals and three other drug makers, asking why they had hiked prices for naloxone during a public health crisis.
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“At the same time this epidemic is killing tens of thousands of Americans a year,” said McCaskill, “we’re seeing the price of naloxone go up by 1,000% or more.

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 …Mylan, which sells a vial [how many doses per vial?] for an average wholesale price of $23.70, according to Truven and Adapt Pharma of Dublin, Ireland.”

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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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Oxycontin Investigation – A Pulitzer for LA Times?


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A TIMES INVESTIGATION

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Inside an L.A. OxyContin ring that pushed more than 1 million pills. What the drugmaker knew

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By HARRIET RYAN, LISA GIRION AND SCOTT GLOVER

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JULY 10, 2016

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This LA Times investigative report by Ryan, Girion and Glover is now a contender for Pulitzer Award. They expose years of passively tracking extreme volume sales by leaders at the top of Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. While they racked up billions in sales, they tracked the surge in prescriptions from pill clinics in LA to gangs trafficking in Washington State for sale on the street. 80 mg tablets, deaths, crime, gangs, heroin – waves of heroin related crime and overdoses in cities all over the world.

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Purdue could track suspicious high volume sales of their pill:

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Until a decade ago, Purdue, like most drug manufacturers, didn’t monitor pharmacies for criminal activity. The DEA has held wholesalers, not drugmakers, responsible for identifying and reporting suspicious orders from their customer pharmacies.

In 2007, the DEA pressured drug manufacturers to do more to stem the prescription drug crisis and warned that it would be looking at every step in the supply chain. In response, Purdue decided to gather detailed information about pharmacies, Crowley said.

The company approached wholesalers and struck agreements allowing the company access to their sales reports. With the new data, the security team in Stamford could see all wholesalers’ OxyContin sales to individual pharmacies, down to the pill.

“I can look at something and say, ‘Geez, that stinks’ without me even visiting the place,” Crowley recalled.

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……What Purdue knew

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More than 194,000 people have died since 1999 from overdoses involving opioid painkillers, including OxyContin. Nearly 4,000 people start abusing those drugs every day, according to government statistics. The prescription drug epidemic is fueling a heroin crisis, shattering communities and taxing law enforcement officers who say they would benefit from having information such as that collected by Purdue.

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A private, family-owned corporation, Purdue has earned more than $31 billion from OxyContin, the nation’s bestselling painkiller.

 

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In 2015, the Week published:

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How the American opiate epidemic was started by one pharmaceutical company

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From Pacific Standard

Mike Mariani

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OxyContin’s ball-of-lightning emergence in the health care marketplace was close to unprecedented for a new painkiller in an age where synthetic opiates like Vicodin, Percocet, and Fentanyl had already been competing for decades in doctors’ offices and pharmacies for their piece of the market share of pain-relieving drugs.

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These reports must demand a Congressional investigation into Oxycontin (before and after the 2010 abuse deterrent version) and all potentially addicting drugs currently on the market, not just pain killers.

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Congress needs to address pharma’s drug trafficking, data collection, and,duty to report.

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Pharma needs to be tracking distribution not just for sales and profit, but for common sense to interrupt drug trafficking. Obviously there is no law.  Profit always wins.

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Business ethics is not good enough to justify the explosion of opioid abuse that stems from years of Oxycontin pills. Profiteering at the cost of deaths and drug abuse. Vote with your stock holdings.

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Cannabis for pain and symptom relief

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Congress has lost the average person’s respect for scheduling cannabis as Schedule 1. It is an essential medication that has been used medically, safely for thousands of years. Patients are arriving in office with the discovery that CBD, simply CBD, works for their intractable pain. That’s not exactly correct, but there is a topical cannabis mixture that can relieve malignant pain – I mean disabling, not cancer.

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Reschedule cannabis as Schedule 3 immediately. It needs to be legalized, studied and taught. When MD’s are not taught about the cardiovascular potential with THC and when patients arrive in the ER without knowing what was in the marijuana they used, our hands are tied.

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Congress owes a release to the millions jailed simply for felony cannabis possession.

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Cannabis  “to date has been responsible for the arrest of about 20 million US citizens,” written in 2010 by Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry Lester Grinspoon.

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