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Rollin Gallagher's Dark Alliance With Purdue Pharma and Prescription PainkillersMarianne Skolek Salem-News.com
Narcotics prescriptions written by VA providers are up 259%.. VA prescriptions for Hydrocodone, OxyContin, Methadone, and Morphine have risen 270% in the last 12 years.
(MYRTLE BEACH, SC) - TO: U.S. Senate Finance Committee In May 2012 you announced an investigation being conducted by your Committee involving the rising rates of addiction and death throughout the U.S. to prescribed painkillers. Specifically you named pharmaceutical companies and their ties to pharma funded pain societies and paid physician spokespersons pushing painkillers for all levels of pain.
One of the physicians under Senate investigation is Rollin M. Gallagher, MD, Director of Pain Management, Philadelphia Veteran Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Gallagher has been editor-in-chief of Pain Medicine Journal, former president of the American Board of Pain Medicine, and former director of the American Pain Foundation and president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
He served on several national Veterans Administration (VA) committees related to pain and on a joint project with the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense (DOD) to establish pain management guidelines. His present research includes patterns of opioid treatment, pain and depression in the elderly, fibromyalgia, and pain outcomes of traumatic battlefield injury.
I am confident the U.S. Senate Finance Committee is aware -- or now will be aware -- that the Pain Medicine Journal is funded by Purdue Pharma (maker of OxyContin) also under Senate investigation. American Board of Pain Medicine is also under Senate investigation.
American Pain Foundation is also under Senate investigation and closed their Foundation after they were named in the investigation by the Senate. American Academy of Pain Medicine is also under Senate investigation.
It appears that Dr. Gallagher has aligned himself with pain organizations and pharmaceutical companies that the U.S. Senate stated "evidence suggests that drug companies may be responsible, at least in part, for this epidemic by promoting misleading information about the drugs (painkillers) safety and effectiveness.”
The number of patients treated by the Veterans Administration is up 29% in the last 11 years, while narcotics prescriptions written by Veterans Administration providers are up 259%. VA prescriptions for Hydrocodone, OxyContin, Methadone, and Morphine have risen 270% in the last 12 years.
A VA study entitled, "Association of Mental Health Disorders with Prescription Opioids and High-Risk Opioid Use in Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan" investigated the impact of mental health disorders, particularly post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), on risks and harm associated with the use of prescription pain medications (called opioids) for the management of chronic pain.
The study authors concluded that among U.S. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, those with mental health diagnoses, especially PTSD, were more likely to be prescribed opioid medications for pain management, and that Veterans with chronic pain and PTSD in particular, who were treated with opioids, experienced negative life events in the course of their care.
Finance Committee members have to be appalled that our veterans -- our heroes -- are being over-treated with opioids -- and especially with OxyContin -- for PTSD and "experienced negative life events in the course of their care" which has led to deaths and addictions in unprecedented proportions.
What has your investigation shown so far on Dr. Gallagher's ties to the pharmaceutical industry in encouraging the use of opioids for the treatment of PTSD? Every day more of our military are dying and becoming addicted to opioids such as OxyContin under the guise as an appropriate treatment of PTSD. How much longer are you going to allow this criminal charade to continue Committee members?
Pamela Gray, MD, an internist and rheumatologist, was told when she started working at the VA hospital in Hampton, Va., in 2008 that she would be the pain management specialist. Gray left her private practice to work for the VA but was later fired when she tried to speak out about her concerns over opioid prescribing.
The Finance Committee should be curious on the role Dr. Robert D. Kerns plays in opioid prescribing for PTSD in the VA. Dr. Kerns is the National Program Director for Pain Management at the Department of Veterans Affairs. More on Dr. Kerns next week.
Keep in mind Finance Committee members that Dr. Kerns is not an M.D. -- he is a PhD, but very involved in opioid treatment of our military heroes leading to the huge surge of addictions and deaths. Please do not have your eyes wide shut as regards Dr. Gallagher, MD and Dr. Kerns, PhD and their setting standards of medical care for our military by encouraging the overwhelming use of opioids in the treatment of PTSD.
I believe Gallagher and Kerns have to be held accountable for the sky rocketing rate of opioid deaths and addictions while serving in leading positions in the V.A. Hopefully my further expose on the medical doctor and the PhD next week will further spike the interest of the U.S. Finance Committee in their investigation -- which has now been 1-1/2 years in the making while the deaths and addictions mount.
Our military heroes deserve your intervention and the Senate Finance Committee should reverse roles and become heroes to our military.
LP - Proud is an understatement. Love does not cover it. Faith is what has us walk side by side -- and not to mention the poems that you are gifted with.
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