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Washington State is Front-Runner in Ending the 'Over-Treatment' of Pain in the U.S.Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com
"A man has to live with himself, and he should see to it that he always has good company." Charles Evans Hughes (11th Chief Justice of the U.S. 1862 - 1948)
(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - This month, the State of Washington will begin implementing new regulations for physicians and prescribers who treat their chronic pain patients with opiates. http://www.doh.wa.gov/Publicat/2011_news/11-101.htm Those responsible for the law say it is meant to provide patients with better pain care -- and importantly to prevent increasing overdose deaths. Although the law is being met with resistance by pain societies funded by pharmaceutical companies who market the "undertreatment of pain in the US" in order to keep opioids flowing freely to pain patients addicted for many years to opioids.
Kristi Weeks is director of the offices of legal services for the State Department of Health in Washington. Weeks stated "What we're concentrating on right now is the provider population so that we can educate them about the rules and kind of quell some of the panic or the knee jerk reactions that are happening out in the community and really help them understand you can treat these patients. This is not a barrier."
Health clinics in the state recommend to patients that there are ways to deal with pain other than using narcotics — things like physical therapy, yoga, massage or acupuncture. Or over–the–counter pain meds like ibuprofen or Tylenol. But most of these treatments are not covered by Medicaid because they aren't clinically proven.
Dr. Jeff Thompson is the Chief Medical Officer for Washington State Medicaid and he advised "I think people who have chronic pain do sometimes need narcotics, including long–acting narcotics, and I think what we're trying to say is, what is the dose that will maximize their function and minimize their pain. But when we get up to these extremely high doses I have to look at the numbers and say we have a death every day from a long–acting opiate prescription in Medicaid. There's about 350 deaths per year and that keeps going up and we need to bend that curve down."
Thompson admits the new law makes it difficult for some patients. But in the end it's a matter of providing good care.
A couple of years ago, a physician named Michael Schiesser contacted me to advocate together. He referred me to a radio transcript of an interview he did with another physician after Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin was convicted in Federal Court of misleading physicians and patients about the addictive qualities of their blockbuster, multi-billion dollar plus drug. Dr. Schiesser had formed a group called The Washington Pain Alliance (WPA) -- "a diverse group of stakeholders who affect or are affected by pain care. Led by the WPA Council, the alliance identifies and addresses gaps in information and areas of need in the current pain care climate. All Washington state organizations and individuals are invited to participate in the WPA and each participant has an equal voice and equal platform from which to raise and address issues related to pain care in Washington state." Here is the radio transcript from 2007 sent to me by Dr. Schiesser:
In a follow-up email to me, Dr. Schiesser said "You will see from this discussion, we are all on the same page as far as our opinion of the OC (OxyContin) manufacturer."
I recently looked at Dr. Schiesser's Washington Pain Alliance and was stunned to read that he is now working together with the American Pain Foundation - the lobbying group of Purdue Pharma (also funded by Purdue Pharma). And proudly at the bottom of the Washington Pain Alliance website, are the words -- The Washington Pain Alliance is a project of the American Pain Foundation. View a list of APF supporters
In December 2010, I suspected that Dr. Schiesser had been enticed by Purdue Pharma to come over to the dark side and join the ranks of a $10 billion criminally convicted pharmaceutical company and their lobbying group, I questioned the good doctor by email about his association with them. I received an email that read "When traveling this Odyssey, ironies show up everywhere."
The word "ironies" did not come to mind for me -- the words "dancing with the devil" do though.
LP - A wasp on the windshield will always make me proud that we walk together down our paths. You are truly the teacher, the gardener and the doctor -- but more importantly your words touch so many. I cherish you.
___________________________________Salem-News.com Reporter Marianne Skolek, is an Activist for Victims of OxyContin and Purdue Pharma throughout the United States and Canada. In July 2007, she testified against Purdue Pharma in Federal Court in Virginia at the sentencing of their three CEO's - Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim - who pleaded guilty to charges of marketing OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused to physicians and patients. She also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007. Marianne works with government agencies and private attorneys in having a voice for her daughter Jill, who died in 2002 after being prescribed OxyContin, as well as the voice for scores of victims of OxyContin. She has been involved in her work for the past 8-1/2 years and is currently working on a book that exposes Purdue Pharma for their continued criminal marketing of OxyContin.
Marianne is a nurse having graduated in 1991 as president of her graduating class. She also has a Paralegal certification. Marianne served on a Community Service Board for the Courier News, a Gannet newspaper in NJ writing articles predominantly regarding AIDS patients and their emotional issues. She was awarded a Community Service Award in 1993 by the Hunterdon County, NJ HIV/AIDS Task Force in recognition of and appreciation for the donated time, energy and love in facilitating a Support Group for persons with HIV/AIDS.
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