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Deadly Prescription Drug Epidemic Finds its Way Down Under
Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com
"It is forbidden to kill, therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers -- and to the sound of trumpets" Voltaire
Dr. Joe Kosterich
(MYRTLE BEACH SC) - Pharma's push of painkillers in their marketing of the phrase "under treatment of pain" now hits epidemic proportions in Australia along with the U.S. and Canada
A publication called "The Australian" recently ran an article written by Dr. Joe Kosterich. He goes by the name "Dr. Joe" and is an author, keynote and motivational speaker, general practitioner and health industry consultant. Dr. Joe has held senior positions in the Australian Medical Association and sat on numerous industry and government boards as well as having extensive corporate experience in the setting up and management of medical centers. He is also a spokesperson for Virtual Medical Centre throughout Australia. http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/
Dr. Joe’s DIY Health is founded on the principle that your health is directly influenced by how you live your life. The decisions and choices you make about what you put into your body, how active you are, how much rest and relaxation you get and how you deal with stress impact on your health, vitality and wellbeing.
The above information is all contained on his blogs to his many followers in Australia as well as a Facebook page. What I found very compelling from Dr. Joe was the following:
"We hear much about the war on drugs. There is a much bigger problem that has not attracted much attention or interest.That is the deaths, overdoses and addictions due to legal pain killers. An inquest is pending in the coroners court about a death related to the prescription of Oxycontin two years ago. This drug which was promoted as being non addictive is highly addictive. I have written an article for Australian news websites on this issue."
Before I go into what Dr. Joe wrote about in the Australian news, I find it interesting that now that the OxyContin epidemic has continued its reign in the U.S. and Canada, he acknowledges that the drug was promoted as being non addictive and "is highly addictive." So now Australia is dealing with this destruction of life in addiction and death because of the marketing by the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma as being non addictive. We have the FDA to protect the consumers in all 50 states against dangerous drugs, but not when the "protector of the American people" is picking the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry and that is what has been allowed to happen under the watch of the FDA.
Below in "bold" are highlights of what Dr. Joe foresees as Australia's prescription drug problem in his words and spelling --
Dr. Joe acknowledged in "The Australian" that in the United States in 2010, 254 million prescriptions were filled for opiods. This is “enough to medicate every American adult around the clock for a month” according to analysts Cowen and Co.
Further, he states that in the US in 2008, 14,800 or 40 per cent of all accidental poisoning deaths were due to opiod painkillers and this number has tripled since 1999.
Australian figures show a doubling (from 360 to 705) of opioid overdose deaths between 2007 and 2010.
Up until the mid-1990s, the only way opiates could be absorbed was via injection. A US company bought the rights to oxycodone, which was long out of patent and came up with a way to get it absorbed in a time-release fashion when taken orally. It was seen as a breakthrough for those with pain due to terminal cancer.
And had it stayed just used in that setting, things may not have got out of hand. But it was promoted for use in all forms of chronic pain, such as back pain and arthritis. Worse still it was promoted as being non-addictive.
In 2007 Purdue Pharma, which makes oxycontin, pleaded guilty to misbranding the drug “with intent to defraud and mislead the public”. It paid $635 million in penalties. In 2010 revenue was over $3 billion.
By this time the damage was done. Doctors and patients had found out the hard way. The drug caused significant side effects, didn’t last the 12 hours it was claimed to, had significant withdrawal symptoms when stopped and was indeed addictive.
After I discussed this topic on talkback radio there were numerous calls. One man in his 30s got withdrawal symptoms after two weeks on the tablets. He was urged to stop the drug by friends who noted a change in his personality. Another described coming out of a haze and having been a zombie whilst on the tablets.
Is it hard to be prescribed oxycontin? Nowhere near as hard as it should be. Doctors must accept some of the blame. But doctors are also part of a society, which has in the words of Anna Lemke (sic Lembke, MD) of Stanford University, come to see "treatment of pain as the holy grail of compassionate medical care", leading doctors to prescribe even when they may wonder about abuse.
Demand for pain relief is driven by a societal view that all suffering is avoidable.
State health departments “monitor” prescriptions. My personal experience is that they are often months behind and have little power to act. The Federal Government (which pays the bill) could clamp down but is not interested.
Then there are people who have unwittingly had their lives affected. These are people who have been started on the drug after an injury but never come off it.
So is there an answer? In my opinion it should never have been approved for use other than in terminal pain. Other than for misleading marketing it may not have been. It should be restricted to use in terminal cancer pain. Anyone getting a script must register with a pharmacy and only be dispensed by one pharmacy. And all pharmacies need access to a central database of users. This will make doctor shopping useless, as the scripts can’t be filled.
We also need to accept that sometimes pain is part of life. And in a post operative sense may alert you to problems. Those who have come off the drugs have found other ways of managing pain. This includes less addictive drugs, exercise, acupuncture, mind techniques and physical therapies. Yet the government is biased towards use of drugs by subsidising them but not other forms of pain treatment.
And if you are offered OxyContin (which seems to be commonplace in hospitals), ask about an alternative. If you must use it following injury or surgery then use the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time.
We managed without these drugs until very recently and can do so again.
I did notice on the "Virtual Medical Centre" website as shown above, that they list a number of pharmaceutical companies as "partners". Dr. Joe is a spokesman for Virtual Medical Centre. Just as a heads up Dr. Joe, of all the prestigious pharmaceutical companies listed, Purdue Pharma, maker of the drug ravaging your country is not a partner. When Purdue Pharma gets any bad press, they wine and dine the originator of the bad press so be on the alert for them to approach Virtual Medical Centre to become a partner. The fox always likes to get inside the hen house -- and they are definitely the $13 billion fox -- and the sound coming from the fox is a blaring trumpet.
Salem-News.com Investigative 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.
LP -- Walking at your side on our paths and being loved by you is my gift from God. I treasure you -- and, of course, your "poems."
Investigative Reporter for Salem-News.com on drug epidemic