Painkillers and Addiction

Painkillers & Addiction

Painkillers and AddictionConsidering the long list of potentially devastating drugs, painkillers are among the most lethal, because of their side effects and addictive nature. The number of opioid painkiller prescriptions have risen by 300% over the past 10 years, and 80% of the world’s opioids are being used by Americans. The highest prescription rate in the U.S is in Alabama where 143 prescriptions are written for every 100 people.  Deaths from overdosing are a result of this trend, that far surpasses those from illicit street drugs.

About 23,000 Americans died from overdosing on prescription drugs in 2013, and painkillers accounted for around 16,000 of those deaths.

The drug companies should be held accountable for these dangerous drug trends, since several have actually been caught lying about the benefits and risks of their drugs.  Organic Consumers Association has noted the drug industry has “fostered the opioid addiction epidemic” in several ways, as listed below:

  • Introducing long-acting opioid painkillers like OxyContin that prior to reformulation in 2010 could be snorted or shot.  This drug is claimed to be safer than heroin.
  • Changing pain prescription guidelines to make opioids the first choice for pain conditions that previously did not qualify for these types of drugs.
  • The promotion of long-term usage of opioids when there is no evidence of long- term safety and effectiveness.
  • Misinforming doctors and patients about the addictive nature of opioid drugs.

For many people the effects don’t last anywhere near 12 hours, and painful withdrawal symptoms set in once the drug wears off.  This can include body aches, nausea and anxiety, as well as the original pain.  All of this begins to feed the cycle of addiction.

The Week published an article in 2015 that reveals the promotional strategy developed by Purdue, and backed by the FDA, that has led to enormous personal tragedy.  A current lawsuit in New Hampshire, over deceptive marketing, has been filed against Purdue Pharma, accusing the company of deceptive marketing. They are claiming it misrepresented the risks and benefits of long-term opioid use for chronic pain.  Purdue has 19 lawyers on the case and has handed over nothing more than legal briefs, and no internal documents.  OxyContin is considered the $30 billion “widow maker”.  Purdue has raked in more than $31 billion from the sale of this drug since its approval in 1996.  Even after 3 of its executives pleaded guilty in 2007 to criminal charges of misleading regulators, doctors and patients about the drug’s addiction and abuse risk, sales remain unaffected.  $600 million in fines was paid and 3 executives agreed to pay another $34.5 million in fines after pleading guilty of misbranding.

Opiates are also potent immunosuppressive drugs.  A dose of 30 to 50 milligrams of naltrexone is used to prevent the fatal respiratory depression from heroine and narcotic overdoses.  As soon as a patient starts taking opiates for chronic pain, their health rapidly declines as their immune system becomes increasingly compromised.  Furthermore, the drug makers knew that OxyContin would inevitably ended up in the hands of criminals and addicts, according to the publication in The Los Angeles Times recently.

The government senate approved opioid legislation is simply “feeding the beast,” (Big Pharma). Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin from West Virginia, has proposed a bill that would require addiction clinics using Suboxone to be regulated by the state.  This drub includes, among other drugs, naloxone that is considered an abuse deterrent, as it causes more painful withdrawal symptoms.  Drug addition has become an intentionally created disease, but none of the politicians address the crux of the problem or the elephant in the room, created intentionally by the drug industry.  Medical marijuana does lower prescription drug use and abuse and is unlikely to kill you.  Why would they authorize a harmful drug like OxyContin and not the less lethal marijuana?  Could it be the millions of dollars a year being raked in by the Big Pharma?

-Dr Fredda Branyon


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