As a retired physician I watched the Democratic debate a few nights ago with interest when each candidate roundly assailed the drug companies who manufactured opioids, calling them out for their role in the epidemic of drug related opioid addictions and deaths. There is a missing link in the targeted villains.
Indeed, we are again following the money. The drug companies profit by the billions of dollars, so indeed, they should be a righteous target to “pay” for this disaster. However, the drug companies do not and cannot just hand out the opioids. It requires a prescription from a Physician, an MD. There are regulations. It is not so simple to just hand over a prescription. There is paperwork and justification and there are monitoring systems already in place to track those same prescriptions. Yet, it is not that hard to procure an opioid prescription. And there’s money to be made!
I understand the reluctance of a patient to blame their own beloved family MD. After all, one could never blame someone in whom you place your very life and whose oath is to “do no harm.” But, we bear responsibility. And MD’s are the choke point. Brevity prevents me from more extensive comment. Suffice to say, that MD’s have contributed to the drug crisis. We are legally empowered to continue to prescribe, or, we can be the ones to stop the madness. Until then, the number of drug deaths will continue just like gun violence and the prescription pad is like an AR 15 in the hands of your MD. Caveat emptor.
No one wants bad news. Positive good news is best. Doctors want to cure. Patients should not leave in despair. Any drug treatment as long as it doesn’t hurt is acceptable. I preached back in 2008 that Pfizer made ~$5 billion a year on a drug to treat fibromyalgia. The diagnosis was a made up medical diagnosis. There is no test that supports the diagnosis. But no one believed it. At least the primary care MD’s at my talk objected. It worked in their patients. Once again there is a voice in the crowd that objects. And if you follow the money, that voice will be stilled. After all Pfizer has millions to spend to protect billions in sales. No doubt there are many among you who can swear it works. Have you considered modern day Snake Oil?
No harm no foul? There are side effects. That’s why folks believe the drug is effective. You know you have taken it because it’s side effects are real. Physicians prescribe it because patients have said it works. It’s a self serving cycle. Call it psychological symbiosis. The only real beneficiary is Pfizer. Money talks. Every time I watch the TV commercial and the disclaimers I am saddened by the disinformation. Gaba, lyrica, horizant – all drugs masquerading as cures for diseases that aren’t.