Doctors Push Opioids on Patients

Senator Claire McCaskill traveled the state last week to push for a Prescription Database Management Program. McCaskill wants the government to track your prescriptions because you cannot be trusted.

McCaskill tells us a PDMP is a tool in fighting opioid addiction and abuse. To date, Missouri is the only state in the union to force its citizens into a government-controlled prescription database. And though some push PDMP as the solution to stop abuse, many states with PDMPs, have far higher rates of abuse than Missouri.

But is a PDMP the answer to stopping abuse?

Novus, a medical detox center, says addiction and overdose may occur even if an opioid is taken as prescribed. They reference a 2010 study entitled, “Opioid Prescriptions for Chronic Pain and Overdose,” which shows that, despite PDMPs in nearly every state, opioid prescriptions have increased 800% over the past ten years across the nation.

Novus insists it is Big Pharma, not citizens, behind the big push for opioid use and the consequences it has caused.

An article in the New Yorker, “Who is Responsible for the Pain-pill Epidemic?” agrees.

…companies that manufactured these narcotics—including Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, and Endo Pharmaceuticals—began to aggressively market their products for long-term, non-cancer pain, including neck and back pain.

The author shows doctors were to be punished if they did not prescribe narcotics for pain:

In a policy drafted by several people with ties to narcotics makers, including Haddox, the Federation of State Medical Boards called on the boards to punish doctors for inadequately treating pain, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Federation also reportedly accepted money from pharmaceutical firms to produce and distribute narcotics-prescribing guidelines.

My wife now has a story that reveals the problem as it currently stands, a problem that cannot be corrected by a PDMP.

Five weeks ago she gave birth to our daughter, Adeline. An awe-inspiring moment filled with great happiness but also pain. You hear stories of the pain involved in childbirth, but the extent of it is grossly underestimated until it is experienced.

Heidi mentioned some slight pain after delivery and was given Motrin IB, a dose of 800mg of ibuprofen, every twelve hours.

Periodically a nurse or doctor would check on Heidi and ask what level her pain was. The morning after Adeline’s birth Heidi mentioned it was a three on a scale of one to ten. The following morning, one out of ten. And the morning we took Adeline home, zero out of ten.

Even though Heidi continually rated her pain low, the doctor pushed her to take an opioid prescription. I counted no less than three times Heidi saying she did not need an opioid before agreeing just so the doctor would relent.

Why were they so insistent on sending Heidi home with an opioid?

Was it that important to earn few extra dollars from the prescription?

In a hearing earlier this year in Jefferson City held by Senator McCaskill, a board of doctors said new pain management training is the best method of stemming the overuse of opioids. A PDMP, though they supported it, was not the most important method to address the abuse and subsequent overdoses caused by opioids.

I wholeheartedly agree.

Instead of treating law-abiding citizens as criminals and drug dealers, why don’t doctors reevaluate their pain management practices? Maybe they should join the “five dozen nonprofit groups and medical experts” who called on the Joint Commission to revisit their standards for pain management.

“All pain was viewed as being bad and so it pushed providers too often to over-prescribe opioids,” said Dr. Michael Carome of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, one of the groups signing the letter. The effort advocates for alternative treatments to opioids, including non-opioid pain relievers, physical therapy, and psychotherapy.

There will likely be another attempt to pass PDMP legislation in Missouri next session, especially with Senator Claire McCaskill working to force the legislature’s hand. She does not seem to care that it is a system that has failed to curb addiction and overdoses in other states while actively collecting the private medical data of citizens.

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