Veterans Suicides 20 per day – MD not paid in 12 months for 5 approved visits

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VA Conducts Nation’s Largest Analysis of Veteran Suicide

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Read the report all you want, but for 12 months I’m not reimbursed. And no explanation why. No wonder they can’t get doctors.

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Yet another call just now from TriWest asking me to treat a veteran. VA crisis lines leave vets in limbo. Calls go to voice mail. Veterans have killed themselves just after calls to crisis lines. A lot of these suicides are due to PTSD. Veterans cannot get the help they need.

 

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I believe it is TriWest who won the contract to schedule suicidal veterans who have Treatment Resistant Depression or PTSD or Bipolar Depression. I treat that. It works except in the most extreme cases, in minutes to just a couple days. It’s simple and safe for outpatient use. It has been tested at NIMH and Yale since 1991. The VA-UCSD psychiatrist referred him and then continued care.

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I will not see one more veteran until I am reimbursed for the 5 pre-approved visits for a veteran I treated 12 months ago. He was better in a few days, the first time in decades he had relief of depression. If you cannot pay me who can relieve treatment resistant Major Depression in 2 days, then honey, no wonder you can’t find docs to help. They limited me to their chosen codes for billing. I spoke to psychiatrists who work with veterans and they have never heard of those codes. I guess they just mean loud and clear: NO PAY. Fine. It was a pay cut to offer and took weeks of paper forms, months of approval – you have to really want to do it. With frequent help from a very experienced clerk and a doggedly informed veteran who knew all the ropes, it took months for paperwork to get rushed through. Plenty of doctors just graduating this month don’t know how many months paperwork takes and they won’t get paid.

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San Diego VA has the worst reputation in the nation. I understand it is the San Diego VA that has the worst lag time delays of several months before veterans can even be seen. Worst in the country. Correct me if I’m wrong. And we have a lot more veterans because warm sunny weather is easier on their bones. Is that any excuse to dis-incentivise any doctor by not paying for services?

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The new veterans suicide hotline does not even return all calls. Public Radio just had an expose’ on this one or two weeks ago.

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Twenty veterans take their life daily.

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Only 30% of people with depression respond to antidepressants.

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Based on publications from major academic centers, treatment resistant depression, it seems, is diagnosed after failing as few as 3 or 4 antidepressants.

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Compare any antidepressant to ketamine with potential relief in hours to a couple days.

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It’s not like this is new. In 1991 ketamine was first studied at NIH for depression. Yale has carried the work forward with them. But people live at home and it has to be cost effective. It is unnecessary and/or unaffordable for most people including taxparers to be paying for IV infusions when many or most patients do well on sublingual or nasal use. It is the #1 drug of abuse in China, so don’t just offer it to any person who needs it. Make sure you understand how important glial modulators are in depression. See Yale with NIMH publication on inflammation in depression, I posted on these pages about 3 or 4 years ago when it came out.

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Yale with NIMH had published that ketamine rapidly creates synapses.

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And Yale has published:


Activation of a ventral hippocampus–medial prefrontal cortex pathway is both necessary and sufficient for an antidepressant response to ketamine

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In January 2012, I posted detailed information:

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Depression PTSD – Ketamine Rapid Relief

 

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  • PTSD has a more direct link to suicide than previously thought, a current Texas A&M University study concludes – references below.

  • A high lifetime risk of suicide occurs in women who have been sexually and physically abused as young girls.

  • More than 300,000 veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD or major depression – many not yet diagnosed.

  • Risk of suicide is the highest during the first month of standard antidepressant therapy, and a significant number of patients do not have adequate improvement even after months, resulting in harm to personal and professional lives.

  • Patients are at suicide risk upon discharge from psychiatric hospitals.

  • Significant predictors of both suicide attempts and preoccupation with suicide are guilt and anger and impulsive behaviors.

    ~
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  • Ketamine is the most important breakthrough in treatment of major depression with rapid and lasting effects.

  • Ketmine can help immediately, unlike all other antidepressants that may require weeks or months to work, if they help at all. See NPR report here – that appeared soon after I posted this (skip to their last section). It is FDA approved and legal. NPR again reports ketamine’s rapid relief of depression.

  • .
  • snip

    snip

    • The medical literature on ketamine use is profoundly important. There are over 6,800 medical publications. Ketamine has potent healing powers. Karl Jansen, psychiatrist in London, believes that “ketamine has potent healing powers when used as an adjunct to psychotherapy.” There is nothing like it; however, treatment for serious depression still requires team support, not medication only.

    •  The World Health Organization reports that disability to due depression is second only to heart disease.

    • Suicide is a catastrophic medical emergency. I cannot stress this enough. Depression is treatable.

    • Your death is unnecessary. It would be a terrible loss to all who love you.

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Please read that entire post January 2012 before you call to ask questions. The calls are very time consuming.

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There is no reason to restrict life and death matters to one drug, and then make it dependent upon only IV infusions. What kind of life is vegetating in depression for decades? It is a short acting drug. I have posted on why ketamine should never be used alone, but must be used with other glial modulators.

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Most troubling:

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Compounded Medications are Not Covered by Any Insurance

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Most people cannot afford compounded medications, especially if disabled due to Major Depression or PTSD or pain – same medications work on mood and pain.

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TAKE ACTION

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Healthy people can get back their lives. These simple steps can be taught across the nation. Millions are needlessly disabled, especially our young adults who are most vulnerable to these disorders, and several hundred thousand of our young veterans.

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An entire nation can get and breathe relief.

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DO THIS:

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Call your favorite politician and relevant organizations who care about healthcare and veterans to STOP the collusion and restraint of trade since all insurers began refusing to cover compounded medications. All these new $100,000 per year medications are paid for by the taxpayers and your insurance deductible that goes up every year. How long will you be able to afford medical care? How long can this restraint of trade be practiced under our noses unless we take action?

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Get this on the Democratic platform this presidential year. It’s a scam perpetuated by multibillion dollar pharma and their mighty rich contributions to congress who are killing affordable medical care.

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Affordable medical care

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These medications must be compounded. How many can afford $200 to $300 or more cash out of pocket just for medications? Or will this become another safe old drug that is bought by a financier, patented, and now they charge $100,000 a year? You know who pays for everything and it ain’t the 1%.

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Ketamine Prescribed Since 1994 – My Experience

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Ketamine offers an opportunity for normal life unmatched by any medication I know of when given off-label for chronic treatment of intractable pain, treatment resistant depression, bipolar depression, juvenile bipolar disorder. It is one of the safest medications I have prescribed in 41 years of medicine. I have never seen anything more effective – it is not a cure, but remission is highly possible. Please refer to peer reviewed references since 2009 on this website on ketamine and depression or pain. Read elsewhere about street drugs, junkies, addicts and media headlines.

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Never Ketamine Alone

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Ketamine is short acting no matter how it is given.

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I never prescribe ketamine by itself – a fools errand; the religion of ketamine is like the religion of opioids. Decades of intractable conditions and chronic neuroinflammation require more than one short acting drug and usually require a multi-disciplinary approach. I work with psychologists or psychiatrists and other specialists when indicated.

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Entourage effect 

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DRUGS ARE LIKE POLITICIANS. A FAMOUS POLITICIAN MAY WALK UNRECOGNIZED, BUT WHEN YOU SURROUND HIM OR HER
WITH MANY PEOPLE, EVEN OF LESSER STATUS, THE POLITICIAN HAS A FAR MORE POWERFUL EFFECT.

Mechoulam

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1994 – I first prescribed IV when teaching cancer pain at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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2001 – prescribed for outpatient care of chronic intractable pain

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2011 – prescribed for treatment resistant depression, bipolar depressed, juvenile bipolar/fear of harm phenotype often diagnosed as oppositional defiant disorder.

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2009 – writing about ketamine, neuro-inflammation and glial modulators on this site, with classic references to publications from the foremost peer reviewed journals, including low dose naltrexone, oxytocin.

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Dosing

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Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Juvenile Bipolar/FOH, treatment resistant – may need a dose only twice daily or every 3 days. The dose and frequency of use cannot be predicted – it is idiosyncratic – look up that word.

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Intractable pain – dosing and frequency of medications is very different than for depression.

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My work with these medications, these glial modulators, is too extensive to annotate on these pages. This website since April 2009 has references for context and guidance with active links to peer reviewed publications. Example:

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Clinical experience using intranasal ketamine in the treatment of pediatric bipolar disorder/fear of harm phenotype. D Papolos et al, J Affect Disord. 2013 May;147(1-3):431-6.

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RESULTS:

Ketamine administration was associated with a substantial reduction in measures of mania, fear of harm and aggression. Significant improvement was observed in mood, anxiety and behavioral symptoms, attention/executive functions, insomnia, parasomnias and sleep inertia. Treatment was generally well-tolerated.

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CONCLUSIONS:

Intranasal ketamine administration in treatment-resistant youth with BD-FOH produced marked improvement in all symptomatic dimensions. A rapid, substantial therapeutic response, with only minimal side effects was observed. Formal clinical trials to assess safety and efficacy are warranted.

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mTOR-Dependent Synapse Formation Underlies the Rapid Antidepressant Effects of NMDA Antagonists. R Duman et al, August 2010, Science, Science 2010 Aug: Vol. 329, Issue 5994, pp. 959- 964. [this article free with registration]
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ABSTRACT:

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We observed that ketamine rapidly activated the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, leading to increased synaptic signaling proteins and increased number and function of new spine synapses in the prefrontal cortex of rats. Moreover, blockade of mTOR signaling completely blocked ketamine induction of synaptogenesis and behavioral responses in models of depression. Our results demonstrate that these effects of ketamine are opposite to the synaptic deficits that result from exposure to stress and could contribute to the fast antidepressant actions of ketamine.

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“The resulting protein synthesis and neuronal alterations in the medial prefrontal cortex are the opposite of those produced by chronic stress….”

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Read elsewhere about street drugs, junkies, addicts and media headlines.

If that is you, see an addictionologist, not me.

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Some medications can be drugs of abuse but every patient and every medication that I dispense is followed meticulously. If any sign of misuse or abuse, that unfortunate person is immediately discharged and referred elsewhere.

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For my Home Page, click here: 

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Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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This site is not for email or medical advice.

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It is not legal for me to give medical advice

unless you are my patient which means I have done a medical history and examination.

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I generally accept only those who have failed most or all known treatments, and only those who I feel I can help.

 

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I interview each patient before accepting.

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Any advertising below is not recommended or condoned by me.

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Magnesium Deficient? – Add 3 or 4 Daily for Pain or Depression

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Here’s a keen publication from 1988:

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Magnesium and immune function:

an overview.

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*****Add Magnesium 3 or 4 per day for months.*****

*****Let me know if it helped your pain or depression.*****

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It’s got to be anti-inflammatory – possibly in CNS, and may influence pain, depression, other conditions. Since it is inside the cell, we cannot measure true deficiency. It may be subtle. Only in retrospect 5 months later, during some of the most intense work stress months of one patient’s life, did she realize not one single infection over fall/winter months when there would always be 3 or 4. You may not realize what it has done unless you think about it.

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If it does nothing but stop infections, that alone may prevent Alzheimer’s, years later. Or save your life from the flu that killed a healthy 20 year old. 

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Mg participates in immune responses in numerous ways: as a cofactor for immunoglobulin synthesis, C’3 convertase, immune cell adherence, antibody-dependent cytolysis, IgM lymphocyte binding, macrophage response to lymphokines, T helper-B cell adherence, binding of substance P to lymphoblasts and antigen binding to macrophage RNA. Mg deficiency in rodents impairs IgG synthesis and cell-mediated immunity; complications include thymus atrophy, elevated IgE, hypereosinophilia, histaminosis and lymphoma. Immunologic sequelae of Mg deficiency in humans are subtle and may be affected by genetic control of blood cell Mg concentration. Abnormal C’ activation, excess antibody production and susceptibility to allergy and to chronic fungal and viral infections have been reported. Mg appears to play a protective role in acute allergic reactions.

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From 2001, we learn how crucial magnesium is in many diseases:

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The multifaceted and widespread

pathology of magnesium deficiency

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Abstract

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…extremely important for the metabolism of Ca, K, P, Zn, Cu, Fe, Na, Pb, Cd, HCl, acetylcholine, and nitric oxide (NO), for many enzymes, for the intracellular homeostasis and for activation of thiamine and therefore, for a very wide gamut of crucial body functions. Unfortunately, Mg absorption and elimination depend on a very large number of variables, at least one of which often goes awry, leading to a Mg deficiency that can present with many signs and symptoms. Mg absorption requires plenty of Mg in the diet, Se, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and vitamins B6 and D. Furthermore, it is hindered by excess fat. On the other hand, Mg levels are decreased by excess ethanol, salt, phosphoric acid (sodas) and coffee intake, by profuse sweating, by intense, prolonged stress, by excessive menstruation and vaginal flux, by diuretics and other drugs and by certain parasites (pinworms). The very small probability that all the variables affecting Mg levels will behave favorably, results in a high probability of a gradually intensifying Mg deficiency. It is highly regrettable that the deficiency of such an inexpensive, low-toxicity nutrient result in diseases that cause incalculable suffering and expense throughout the world. The range of pathologies associated with Mg deficiency is staggering: hypertension (cardiovascular disease, kidney and liver damage, etc.), peroxynitrite damage (migraine, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Alzheimers disease, etc.), recurrent bacterial infection due to low levels of nitric oxide in the cavities (sinuses, vagina, middle ear, lungs, throat, etc.), fungal infections due to a depressed immune system, thiamine deactivation (low gastric acid, behavioral disorders, etc.), premenstrual syndrome, Ca deficiency (osteoporosis, hypertension, mood swings, etc.), tooth cavities, hearing loss, diabetes type II, cramps, muscle weakness, impotence (lack of NO), aggression (lack of NO), fibromas, K deficiency (arrhythmia, hypertension, some forms of cancer), Fe accumulation, etc. Finally, because there are so many variables involved in the Mg metabolism, evaluating the effect of Mg in many diseases has frustrated many researchers who have simply tried supplementation with Mg, without undertaking the task of ensuring its absorption and preventing excessive elimination, rendering the study of Mg deficiency much more difficult than for most other nutrients.

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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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NFL – Prevent &Treat Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE – Opioids Blamed Wrongly

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Crowdfunding Needed

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Prevent and Treat

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Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

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C.T.E.

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Opioids Wrongly Blamed

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Leagues may have known about this technology since 2002 publications

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Football players have demonstrated ability to influence others

and raise money for important medical causes.

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This is not about class action law suits.

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This can be imaged early and likely treated.

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It’s about science and bringing medicine into the 21st century.

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A paradigm shift began with the discovery

of the innate immune system by internationally recognized scientists in 1991.

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The clock has been turned off.

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We can change this now.

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Funding is needed for internationally recognized leaders to continue this work.

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The tragic deaths of former NFL football players from repeated concussions has led to brain damage and death from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Suicide profoundly shocks us when many players like Junior Seau at age 43 and now Tyler Sash, die at age 27. He is the youngest found to have such extensive brain damage, as bad as that seen in Junior Seau. So much can be done with state of the art science now that has been ignored.

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Disclosure: I was asked by a research institute if I would evaluate retired NFL players. I chose not to do that so that I might be free to post unbiased information that is not subject to being manipulated by either side in the ongoing appeals for compensation that must be going on with the NFL for $70 million. Tragic that this is such a fight. Even more tragic, this may be diagnosed early and treated.

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Pearls

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Fear of compensation claims after concussion injury prevents imaging of football players and veterans early, while still treatable, before severe changes and death.

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Fear of compensation claims has prevented decades of research funding by internationally recognized scientists. Could politics at NIH & the VA have turned off funding for veterans with pain and with concussion blast injuries? Does cancer and heart disease forever lock up all the research money and now it shifts to stem cells?

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It is inaccurate to say that CTE cannot be diagnosed except after death at autopsy.

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PET scan imaging of glia can show changes early, while alive.

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The ligand PK1195 must be used for PET scan to image glia, available for years in Australia, not yet in America.

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FDA approval must be obtained for the ligand PK1195 before it is used to  image glia in the United States.

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CTE can be diagnosed early.

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CTE is likely to be treatable.

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Internationally distinguished scientists have shown reversal of complete paralysis in rat models of multiple sclerosis in 2010, a so called “degenerative” neurological disease.

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Intractable pain and treatment resistant depression can be put into remission with glial modulators. Surely CTE and other neurological diseases can be approached with scientifically recognized mechanisms and treatments – even if doctors are not aware of the paradigm shift and how to modulate neuro-inflammation. See years of posting on this site since 2009 based on the most important finds in the field of neuroscience for more than 100 years: the innate immune system, glia, neuro-inflammation, and ability to use glial modulators, to modulate intractable conditions that are known to lead to suicide and/or death.

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Paradigm shifts in all fields including medicine, fail to be recognized.

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CTE gives opioids a bad name and misled Taylor Sash and likely others from the diagnosis of CTE that caused years of severe forgetfulness and behavior changes. He may have chosen suicide by opioid.

 

 

 

FACT:

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Trauma such as concussion or infection or stroke triggers inflammation in the brain:  “cytokine storm”

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Inflammation kills brain cells

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Inflammatory cytokines (inflammation) are produced by glia that has been activated by trauma or other causes such as infection, stroke, etc.

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Activated glia produce neuroinflammation and cell death.

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Inflammatory cytokines produce pain and “degenerative” neurological and psychiatric disorders including dementia, depression, anxiety, delirium and death.

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Neuro-inflammation in brain has been found in teens with early signs of schizophrenia, in rats made depressed, and rodents with chronic pain.

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Glia have been detected in life, in vivo, with PET scan imaging, by internationally-recognised radiologist working at Imperial College London, now based in Australia.

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PET scans require a ligand, PK1195, approved for years in Australia – must be approved by FDA in the United States before it can be used here.

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There is good clinical data and publications in animal models to show that damage in brain and spinal cord produced by activated glia can be reversed.

E.g., In 2010, total paralysis has been completely reversed in a rat model of multiple sclerosis by internationally-recognised glial researcher who, in 1991, transformed the understanding of glia that comprise 85% of the brain, since then known to be the innate immune system.

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Publications have shown that patients with major depressive disorder and patients with chronic low back pain have memory loss and brain atrophy.

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Opioids cause pain by stimulating production of inflammatory cytokines that are known to damage neurons in brain and spinal cord – and must be tapered off. We have better treatment for pain.

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Insurance carriers routinely deny payment for recognized medications and procedures to relieve pain.

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CDC is planning a nationwide experiment to radically limit opioids.

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Treatment with glial modulators that reduce neuroinflammation has been shown clinically to relieve treatment resistant major depressive disorder, PTSD, bipolar depression and intractable pain. They are neuroprotective.

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We need to be able to flag players off the field early and intervene with treatment such as glial modulators either before, during or after repeated injury.

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GOALS

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1.  PK1195, a ligand for PET scans, must be tested and approved by FDA. Approval is mandatory for all medications or substances injected into vein or body.

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It simply “tags” the PET scanner to image glia, the cells of the innate immune system that are activated by trauma, infection, stroke, etc.

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2. Do serial PET scans using PK1195 to image glia in NFL players and veterans after blast injury.

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Trauma from concussion is causing cytokine storm, killing brain cells –> ultimately end stage dementia, anxiety, depression, suicide

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3. Flag that player off the field. Follow glial changes during treatment to determine if able to return or if permanent, but prior to end stage damage.

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4.  Treat with glial modulators preventively, early, middle, and/or late

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This subject will be continued. My apologies for lack of time to delete and edit. Days pass by quickly to post brief comments. Time is limited. Please send comments, below.

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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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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.

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

 

 

 

 

Health Insurance All But Useless with High Deductibles

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“High Deductibles in Health Insurance”

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Quoting from the New York Times today, a subject often encountered daily, so rarely discussed in the media. My own colleagues cannot afford health insurance deductibles, let alone the average person who is not a medical professional. Five compounding pharmacies have closed in the last few months! Compounded medications are no longer covered! My patients cannot afford the insurance denials for medications, and how are we practicing medicine when each visit must be taken up with prior authorizations? No wonder the cost of medical care has gone up. What do we do for chronic pain or treatment resistant depression when our people have failed all drugs? Research funding never seems to go toward pain or depression.

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To the Editor:

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Re “Many Say High Deductibles Make Their Health Law Insurance All but Useless” (news article, Nov. 15):

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My self-employed husband and I have found ourselves in this predicament: affordable health care premiums but a prohibitive $5,000 yearly deductible.
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Truly accessible health care cannot be achieved when insurance companies are the primary beneficiaries of policies and when those who are “insured” still cannot afford to see a doctor.

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SUSAN A. McGREGOR

North Kingstown, R.I.
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To the Editor:

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Your article does a good job of describing cost-shifting from insurance companies to medical consumers but doesn’t explore the issue of risk-shifting.

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People pay insurance companies premiums to take on risk. Insurance companies try to avoid as much risk as they can. High deductibles and co-payments are just part of the risk-shifting.
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Other strategies being used include narrow networks of doctors and hospitals, denial of access to high-quality and often high-cost specialists, questioning and limitation of access to expensive drugs, questioning and limiting high-cost testing, and even offering free health club memberships to screen out those with high-cost disabilities.
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At a health insurance fair in San Francisco earlier this month, participants selected from various plans offered through the Affordable Care Act. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times
This process is about a lot more than high deductibles. But the end result is that good people are not getting the care they thought that they paid for. And the political leaders of both major parties approve these hassle factors — as our courts do — in the name of preserving America’s global competitiveness.
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BRANT S. MITTLER

San Antonio

The writer is a cardiologist and a lawyer.
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To the Editor:
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So at the end of the day, health care is no more affordable than it was before Obamacare was enacted! Why should we be surprised?
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Several decades ago, in an effort to promote “wellness,” we saw an increasing trend to encourage people to visit their doctor more regularly and more often, by offering plans that covered basic health maintenance costs. State regulations demanded coverage of some services, and the Affordable Care Act only added to the list that must now be provided without cost to the user.
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Insurance in the traditional sense provides coverage for the unforeseen event. In health care, that would be serious injury and catastrophic disease. What we have today is what the insurance industry refers to as “trading dollars.”
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Imagine if car insurance covered all basic services to reduce the risk of future damage, like oil changes, new brakes and even periodic visits to the car wash. We would see huge increases in the cost of car insurance, although we would also see policies that are offered at low premiums but with high deductibles and high co-payments.
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MICHAEL A. SMITH

Wells, Me.

The writer is a retired equity research analyst who covered the insurance industry.
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To the Editor:
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Your article about high deductibles in health insurance was accurate as far as it went, but a complete discussion of the benefits of health insurance coverage would have included the fact that insurers negotiate substantially reduced payments for in-network medical services for the insured.
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I have a high-deductible policy, but the payments I have to make to an in-network provider are usually only 40 to 50 percent of what I would have paid if I had been uninsured.
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An emergency room physicians’ bill here on my desk lists $632 as the charge, for which the insurer’s negotiated rate was $273.27, a 57 percent discount.
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My high-deductible health insurance policy is a membership in a huge discount medical services program. This is an important consideration that should be discussed more openly. The uninsured, by paying full freight, are subsidizing health care for those of us who are insured.
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DAVID MAIER

Richmond, Va.”

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Insurers Refusing to Cover Pain Medication – Morphine 100 mg per Day Maximum – Opioid Wake up Call – New Nationwide Standard? DEA Mandate

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The FDA mandated 22 manufacturers of long acting opioids

to fund a program on opioid prescribing.

FDA dictated the content.

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I attended the SCOPE of PAIN program Friday November 6, from 8 to 12:30, taught by an Addictionologist from Portland with our local Southern California DEA. Continuing education credit was given by Boston University. The first grant recipient was in 2012.  

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My take:

I think we will rapidly see a 100 mg per day

maximum morphine equivalent allowed

Could I be interpreting this wrong?

Insurers simply deny paying for high doses. They have begun already.

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I am exhausted from ICD10 diagnosis coding – complex patients !!! – that has taken away any possibility I could leave my desk until 4 AM for the last four weeks, in midst of moving office to much better place, and midst the only two computer crashes I have ever had in my pursuit of efficient tech, plus dental fracture, so much more….perfect storm. The paragraphs could be edited and rearranged, so they would be in sequence but they’re not.

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I hope others will give me their take on this. It has been getting worse since almost all university interdisciplinary pain clinics were closed in 1991. Insurers, i.e. managed care clerks, are practicing medicine mandates set forth by anonymous committees looking at spreadsheets not at our complex care. Insurers could save many billions if they invested a few billions in education. Insurers wrote Obamacare. They could write it better. Congress wants all of us to do our part. Surely business too?

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Based on this series of opioid conferences, my guess is their first step is to chop opioid prescribing down to 100 mg morphine equivalents. But what about untreated pain at the heart of the epidemic of suicide? I see it among all classes of people, because we’ve focused on opioids too long to the exclusion of research and exclusion of a whole world of medications now generic, no longer on patent therefore inexpensive, FDA approved medications. The biggest shock: Valuable compounded medications are no longer on formularies of insurers! Our most affordable FDA approved medicines are no longer covered by insurance.

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Where is the data that we must limit the dose to 100 mg per day morphine equivalent?

Is it too much pain medicine or is it untreated pain?

Is it lack of medical care?

or is it lack of affordable medical care?

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My comments arise from grave concern the Insurers and FDA are overlooking the needs of my pain patients. I must speak up now despite need to recover in the next few days.

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Where is the concern for the pain patient

in this multimillion dollar pharmaceutical-company-funded opioid conference?

FDA mandated that manufacturers of extended release opioids fund the conferences.

Where are the millions that need to be spent on

rational interdisciplinary pain management,

rather than just opioid management?

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We need more than just studies of suicides and opioid changes.

We need hospitals and insurance systems

to recognize legitimate therapies that work for real people.

Would the epidemic of addiction

go down if people could get treatment for their pain?

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I posted this week on a new study, an epidemic of suicide in Caucasian middle aged Americans. The results were a shock to Case and Deacon, the Princeton Economists who did the research that merited two articles in the New York Times.

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Epidemic of suicide

deaths as high as in the AIDS epidemic,

driven by pain, disability, loss of job, drug abuse, other.

By too many opioids or by untreated pain?

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That is why, a few days ago I posted on that epic study by Princeton economists: the suicides in middle aged Caucasians now comparable to deaths during the AIDS epidemic. I posted how that can change. In that article and for years with this blog, I post about medications that work more effectively than opioids, i.e. glial modulators, and the need for compounded and herbal medications from approved highly reputable small local pharmacies need to be covered by insurers and allowed on hospital formularies.

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Epidemic of suicide – could it be due to lack of pain treatment

not due to an epidemic of opioids?

Is it too much pain medicine or is it untreated pain?

Is it lack of medical care?

Or is it lack of affordable medical care?

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The key figure from the Case-Deaton study on epidemic of suicides in white middle-aged Americans –  bigger than deaths at the height of the AIDS epidemic. The question is why?

Andrew Gelman, statistician at Columbia University and writer for the Washington Post, argues in his blog against the rate being higher at all. His conclusion: “…death rates among middle-aged non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. slightly increased, even while corresponding death rates in other countries declined by about 30%.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 7.53.11 PM

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Regardless of the argument, untreated pain is a big problem. It causes suffering and joblessness, and can lead to addiction and suicide.

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Does it matter which side of the argument is right?

Pain management is being taught in only 3% of American medical schools.

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births.

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Where is the data that we must limit the dose to 100 mg per day morphine equivalent?

Is it too much pain medicine or is it untreated pain?

Is it lack of medical care?

Or is it lack of affordable medical care?

Insurers are not willing to pay for larger doses of opioids

and deny prior authorization.

Does this lead to suicide?

Money is the root of some of this.

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The cure for suicide is not just to take a sword and slice off the top doses of morphine, and treat everyone with the same low doses, whether you have herniated discs or sprained ankle or RSD.  Sprained ankles may be already getting too much.

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Why blame it all on over-prescribing? How about suicide due to under-prescribing, or suicide from not treating pain at all because healthcare insurance and unemployment don’t mix?   

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Are they blaming high doses as cause of suicide? How about when high dose opioids fail, when all drugs fail, we see no new drugs on the horizon for pain control. That does not fill those patients with hope.

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Of course it is important to acknowledge, as the New York Time health section has followed that epidemic research with How Doctors Helped Drive the Addiction Crisis.

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Where is the data that we must limit the dose to 100 mg per day morphine equivalent?

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Someone must advocate for change. It’s not just pills, it’s not just opioids.

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We are all at risk from disabling pain, loss of jobs and suicide

—yes, doctors too become disabled—

because of substandard education in pain management in this country

focused almost universally

on opioid treatment of pain.

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Lack of funding killed the university interdisciplinary pain management centers in 1991

 

AND we need access to compounded drugs, herbs & supplements in our hospitals.

If Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center can do it, why can’t my hospital?  

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Expect 100 mg oral morphine or equivalent maximum dose per day to rapidly become the standard nationwide. Insurers are refusing to cover the cost of higher doses. Even if you can afford $17,000 out of pocket each month for pain relief, your doctor will be shouldering liability if outside these rapidly evolving guidelines. Insurers rule – and they deny coverage of inexpensive compounded drugs that work better than opioids for my patients who have failed all known treatment. That’s why we need better education and more clinically focused research.

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Those who blame Obamacare for high insurance costs and business-wide practices need look no further than the price of medications, especially opioids.

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It seems everyone breezes over where Washington State came up with a maximum of 100 mg morphine (or equivalent) as a maximum daily dose of opioid. 

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This 100 mg maximum daily morphine dose became law in Washington State many years ago, initially for Workers Compensation, and will soon be adopted by Oregon.

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Of course we are all concerned about the shocking rise in deaths from prescription opioids that are occurring since opioids began to be used after Russell Portnoy published its use for chronic pain in 1991. We just didn’t know that they work for cancer pain that is usually acute pain, not for what is now tens of millions with chronic pain who are on opioids

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But opioids are still necessary for some. Those of my patients who take opioids will have a very hard time with the 100 mg morphine (or equivalent) maximum daily guideline. Informed consent is out the window. We all recognize the practice of medicine has been done by insurance companies since the late 1980’s when managed care took over. This will not change. Now insurers require the ICD10 diagnosis code before they will allow the pharmacist to refill an antidepressant that the patient has been taking for one year with much needed relief. This will give them more tools to deny paying.

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It would appear that those who govern our medication use (insurers and DEA) — and who deny coverage of even more useful, inexpensive medication –  feel that 100 mg morphine equivalent is the maximum dose that should be prescribed.   

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100 mg oral morphine is equivalent to:

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66 mg Oxycodone

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25 mg/hr Fentanyl Patch

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25 mg hydromophone (Dilaudid)

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120 mg hydrocodone (12 of the Vicodin, Norco, Lorcet 10 mg tablets)

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30 mg Oxymorphone (Opana) use not recommended

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Morphine               to                Methadone      

30-90 mg                                   One fourth the morphine dose

90-300 mg                                 One eighth (200 mg/day morphine = 25 mg methadone)

300-500 mg                               One twelfth the morphine dose

>500 mg                                    One twentieth the morphine dose

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Methadone conversion is far more complex than this guideline from University of Michigan

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Only 3% of medical schools teach pain management. That ignorance is costing us trillions in insurance and pharmaceutical fees, and right now the latter two are making war on each other by taking it out on you, the patient who is getting substandard care. They’re taking care of their financial needs that show us the symptoms of disease, pain, suffering, disability, loss of job, and the just published this week, the epidemic of suicide. We need to treat the cause, not just the symptoms. Medical education, injury prevention and treatment needs to be taught starting K-12. The cost would pay for itself but the Insurance Industry needs to pay for it there and in University Medical Schools because Congress will not pay for it. It would be a cost saving investment that would pay itself off in care for seniors when grandchildren have to spot mom and dad in the 24 hour, extended family care that strains budgets. We cannot afford not to teach trigger point basics to each kid and each physical therapist and MD. That alone could save tons of opioids and monthly visits for what never works for muscle strain that no one has found.

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I’m tired of seeing how degraded it has become. To fail to treat the cause of disability and suffering is far more in our hands now, it could happen if people were taught basics instead of opioids, K through medical school. Are we teaching only opioids? yes, it seems so. I am advocating for everything I have written about in this blog since 2009. Glial modulators, mechanical approaches, but compounded medications, in particular, are sadly becoming unaffordable because insurers have stopped coverage for them. Then we all lose one of the most important tools, the only tool, that my patients and millions of others have in treating intractable pain or treatment resistant Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Depression. Compounded medications often work after everything else has failed. The lives of my patients have usually either returned back to normal or  improved in ability to function. That has never been shown with opioids for chronic pain.

 

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I’m too exhausted to be in a position to edit what I’ve written just now, or write adequately. I am just furious at the direction our country for decades has pushed into opioid treatment rather than pain management. This has reached peak brewing since the DEA conference yesterday, dictated by the FDA funded by opioid manufacturers.

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It is a hope that Insurers could fund an analysis of the billions that could be saved and suicides prevented if they funded pain management. What is there to live for than a life free of pain and disability?

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The analysis could show how much is saved when training begins with the young, how to prevent and treat injury. How helpful a child can be to aging grandparents or parents when illness strikes the family. We always turn to family first, as we should. Why is something of the field of pain management not taught in K-12?

 

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The FDA just authorized two opioids for children this last week. I have a vague memory one was oxycontin in children. I do not argue against opioids, I have given opioids to tiny children when I worked in hospice. Children have crippling arthritis too and other medical needs for opioids.

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I am not arguing against opioids. I am saying that what is taught is zero pain management. The focus on drugs is completely unbalanced.

 

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If Sloan Kettering can teach herbal and supplementary medicine to cancer patients, why not begin the study of herbal medicine at K-12 since a lot of parents are taking it instead of using common sense such as exercise, weight loss, family time, relaxation. And herbal and supplementary medicine is what these young ones will teach their children when they grow up. Hopefully prevent some of the toxicity from swallowing all sorts of useless and dangerous things on the shelves.

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Rational health care must begin young in the schools. .

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