Articles Posted in Pain

cdcnytopioidcrisisjuly2021-183x300“It’s huge, it’s historic, it’s unheard of, unprecedented, and a real shame. It’s a complete shame”

That quote, reported by the New York Times and made by Daniel Ciccarone, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, tragically summarizes the latest  federal data on the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis. As the newspaper and others reported:

“Drug overdose deaths rose nearly 30% in 2020 to a record 93,000, according to preliminary statistics released … by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s the largest single-year increase recorded.”

Patients, politicians, and regulators may find it tough to believe, so they need sharp periodic reminders: While there are many terrific, dedicated doctors working today, there also are some truly terrible ones. And dealing with the harms of medical malpractice by the incompetent and abusive can require courage and vigilance.

  • Perhaps a new, streamed Hollywood serial — starring the likes of Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater, AnnaSophia Robb, and Joshua Jackson — can underscore for the public how grisly the results can be until a rare criminal prosecution derails the likes of Christopher Duntsch, a Dallas surgeon so grim he is nicknamed “Dr. Death?”

fentanylillustration-300x99Just as attorneys generals for more than a dozen states inch toward a multibillion-dollar settlement with a drug maker faulted for its big role in the start of the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis, that health menace is taking a new, deadly turn in the region around the nation’s capital.

In Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, officials report they are grappling with spiking overdose deaths, numbering in the hundreds, and blamed on the rise of fentanyl. It is a synthetic, prescription painkiller developed to assist late-stage cancer patients. It packs a wallop. And Big Pharma companies pushed for its wider use with aggressive marketing and sales campaign that landed some drug executives in jail.

The excessive promotion of fentanyl also led to its illegal manufacture, notably in chemical factories in China. Its increasing abuse, along with other opioids, also opened the door to big problems with illicit drugs.

debbiedingell-150x150Just because myriad drugs and supplements are sold over the counter does not mean these pills are safe. They can pose serious health risks and cause major damage, a prominent Midwestern congressman has reminded by sharing her own near-disaster with a well-known OTC drug.

Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, told the Washington Post that she recently awoke with great pain and a feeling of bloating. Her symptoms were so severe and unrelenting that she called her doctor and was rushed into emergency surgery for a perforated ulcer. She was hospitalized for a week to recuperate.

The likely cause for her serious problems, her doctors told her: Her extended taking of high doses of an over-the-counter pain reliever found in many people’s medicine cabinets — Motrin, or ibuprofen. As she told the newspaper, she took it to ease her pain after dental implants and jaw surgery:

When accomplished folks who have racked up awards like Oscars, Emmys, and Pulitzers provide their frank appraisal of the roles of Big Pharma, federal regulators, and law enforcement in the opioid abuse and drug overdose epidemic, they don’t mince words. Just consider the title of their new, four-hour, two-part documentary running on HBO: “The Crime of the Century.”

That headline just starts to capture the gist of the broadcast indictment of the lethal mire that we’ve all gotten sunk into after drug makers — while officials snored — barraged the country with billions of super potent painkiller pills.

bupe-300x188Health workers with legal prescribing privileges have gotten newly revised federal guidelines — once again — making it easier for them to help those addicted to powerful opioid painkillers by prescribing buprenorphine, another powerful medication.

This action could be beneficial in battling the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis that ebbed in recent times and then worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, overall killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.

As the Washington Post reported of regulators’ latest decisions:

oxylabel-300x180Members of the plutocratic Sackler clan have upped the ante yet again in a bankruptcy court bid to settle thousands of lawsuits targeting Purdue Pharmaceutical, the company long in the family’s grip and  blamed for untold misery in the now-resurgent opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis.

The latest, and perhaps final plan submitted to the courts for approval would oust the family from Purdue, converting it into a public trust company.

The Sacklers say they will add a billion dollars more from the family’s formidable fortunes to sums that would be extracted from the company itself.

drugoverdosedeathscdc-300x131Although the Biden Administration may be winning Americans’ approval for its battle against the coronavirus pandemic, drug abuse experts have expressed rising worry that federal efforts are lagging in the fight against a rising health menace: the resurgent opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis.

While overdoses for the first time might claim 100,000 U.S. lives in a single year, the national campaign to quell the opioid crisis, a top priority not that long ago, has become almost an “afterthought” for policy makers in Washington, D.C., the medical news site Stat reported:

“According to interviews with leading doctors, lobbyists, members of Congress, and multiple Biden Administration aides, proposed reforms include billions of new dollars for treatment and recovery services, a deregulation of addiction treatment medications, making many of 2020’s emergency telehealth allowances permanent, and scaling up harm-reduction offerings like needle exchanges, fentanyl test strips, and naloxone [an overdose antidote] distribution. But over a month into Biden’s presidency, it’s not clear when, or even if, a major push on addiction treatment will happen. Even if one does, it’s an open question whether it will lead to modest changes or the more radical approach some advocates say the crisis deserves.”

cardinalhealthlogo-300x110While too many Americans struggle with skyrocketing prescription drug costs, so much so that a $10 insurance co-payment may be lethally dissuasive, Big Pharma firms are seeking billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded benefits on giant settlements they made for their role in the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis.

Johnson & Johnson and the “big three” distributors of prescription drugs — McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health — have disclosed that they will take tax deductions on sums they will fork over to states, local governments, Indian tribes, and others that sued them over damages that they say occurred after they flooded the country with powerful painkillers, the Washington Post reported.

The four companies have agreed to pay between $5 billion and $8 billion each to reimburse communities for the costs they suffered in dealing with millions of deaths, addictions, and debilitations caused by opioids, their synthetic versions, and illicit drugs they opened the door to.

mckinseylogo-300x169The opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis has tarred yet another of the nation’s business titans: McKinsey, a globally renowned consulting firm, has discovered that providing corporate clients sketchy advice about addictive, debilitating, and even lethal prescription medications can have consequences.

The firm, which has apologized for its conduct, has agreed to pay $573.9 million in a settlement with 47 states over consulting work it did for multiple Big Pharma companies, notably with Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the drug OxyContin.

Critics of Purdue, citing media investigations and in civil lawsuits filed by states and local governments, have argued that Purdue pioneered aggressive and deceptive advertising, marketing, and sales practices that fueled the abuse of powerful prescription painkillers and opened the door to overdoses of those drugs, synthetic versions of them, as well as illicit narcotics.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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