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opiate-prescription-epidemic

No More Prescription Medications

A Brief Overview & History of Prescription Medications

prescription pain medications1986 is the year that opiate dependency was born. This is when pharmaceutical companies started their campaign to convince the FDA and doctors that opiates were not addictive and could be used for a pain medication in widespread situations. They needed a medical study that backed their claim that opiates should be prescribed to a broader base of patients, because up to this point they were used exclusively for terminally ill cancer patients because of their effectiveness in alleviating extreme pain.

Then a case study was concluded on 38 patients…yes just 38 patients…that stated “opioid maintenance therapy can be a safe, salutary and more humane alternative to the options of surgery or no treatment in those patients with intractable non-malignant pain and no history of drug abuse”. (1) By 2012 retail prescriptions had roughly tripled ($9 billion yearly) showing that the rising sales and addictions were offset by the pharmaceutical companies’ ability to shape public and medical perception that there wasn’t a problem with opiate dependency. Opiates are a Class 1 drug, which put them in the same category as morphine and heroin. These perceptions were bolstered from claims in studies funded by Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, or other drug manufacturers which reported low rates of addiction: contrary to today’s reality. In 2007, Purdue Pharma and three executives pleaded guilty to “misbranding” of the drug as less addictive and less subject to abuse than other pain medicines and paid $635 million in fines.

Dr. Portenoy | Pain Doctor | A 1986 Life Changing Study

opiatesLifestyle Healing Detox® was founded last year in response to numerous patients who became addicted to medications prescribed by their primary doctors and doctors at other “wellness” centers. The Painless Detox program utilizes a 100% All Natural Patent Pending detox protocol which minimizes withdrawal symptoms while providing the safest detox method available. Medication dosages are gradually lowered, typically over a period of 4 to 6 weeks, until the dosage reaches zero.

Recently, the doctor who authored the 1986 life changing study admitted that he may have overstated the benefits and understated the risks of opiates (2). Dr. Portenoy and other pain doctors who promoted the drugs say they erred by overstating the drugs’ benefits and glossing over risks. Because doctors feared they were dangerous and addictive, opioids were long reserved mainly for cancer patients. But Dr. Portenoy argued that they could safely be taken for months or years by people suffering from chronic pain. Among the assertions, he and his followers made in the 1990s: Less than 1% of opioid users became addicted, the drugs were easy to discontinue and overdoses were extremely rare in pain patients. Many of those experts now say those claims weren’t based on sound scientific evidence. “I gave innumerable lectures in the late 1980s and ’90s about addiction that weren’t true,” Dr. Portenoy said in a 2010 videotaped interview with a fellow doctor (5).

Early in the 20th century, heroin was sold as a cough suppressant and subsequently heroin addiction in the U.S. skyrocketed, so Congress banned heroin in 1924 as doctors became deeply wary about using opioids. Dr. Portenoy set out to change that belief and as a young doctor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering hospital in New York, he noticed that opioids were effective in cancer patients with terrible pain. In 1986, at the age of 31, he co-wrote a seminal paper arguing that opioids could also be used in the much larger group of people without cancer who suffered chronic pain. The paper was based on just 38 cases and included several caveats (1). He argued that opioids are a “gift from nature”. “We had to destigmatize these drugs,” said Dr. Portenoy. He rose to chairman of pain medicine and palliative care at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York where he proudly displayed a magazine mock-up that jokingly dubs him “The King of Pain.”

In the late 1990s, The American Pain Society, of which Dr. Portenoy was president, campaigned to make pain what it called the “fifth vital sign” that doctors should monitor, alongside blood pressure, temperature, heartbeat and breathing. A 2007 fundraising prospectus from Dr. Portenoy’s program shows that his program received millions of dollars over the preceding decade in funding from opioid makers including Endo, Abbott Laboratories, Cephalon, Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson. After spending most of his professional life advocating greater use of the drugs, Dr. Portenoy said there is still little research to show whether patients who embark on long-term opioid therapy will ever be able to stop. Earlier this year, he said, he asked his mother whether she would stop taking her hydrocodone as part of a scientific study. She said no. “How difficult is it for her to get off these drugs?” Dr. Portenoy asked. “You have no idea and neither do I, because no one knows.”

He says this over 25 years later, when it’s too late for the 19,000 deaths that were linked to the drugs in 2014, the same year that U.S. doctors wrote 200 Million prescriptions for opioid painkillers or to those still addicted to these medications. Health insurers are spending over $70 billion every year on medical costs associated with the non-medical use of prescription painkillers (CDC estimate) (2). From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose (3). “Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137 percent, including a 200 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin).” More people die from drug overdoses, CDC says, than in road accidents. Just under 33,000 people died in traffic accidents last year. A team at Stanford University reported that primary care physicians, not pain specialists, are by far the biggest prescribers of opioid drugs. They said sales of prescription opioids rose by 300 percent since 1999 (4).

This year (2016) the CDC is finally urging primary care doctors to try physical therapy, exercise and over the counter pain medications before turning to opioids for pain relief. Lifestyle Healing Detox® addresses the underlying cause(s) of substance dependency as patients aren’t simply detoxed and sent home with all the cravings without ever addressing the probable side effects from the detox. Lifestyle Healing Detox® addresses those side effects which include anxiety, insomnia, depression and more.

1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2873550

2) https://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2012/12/doctor-who-encouraged-wider-use-opioid-painkillers-having-second-thoughts\

3) http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/

4) http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/drug-overdose-deaths-hit-new-record-u-s-cdc-says-n482746

(5)http://unmfm.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/62247431/Pain%20drug%20Champ%20second%20thoughts%20WSJ.pdf

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