THE OPIOID CRISIS IN THREE CHARTS

REPORTED BY 

Norman Clement  RPH., DDS, NORMAN L.CLEMENT PHARM-TECH, MALACHI F. MACKANDAL PHARMD, JOSEPH SOLVO ESQ., MARTIN NDJOU, RPH., WALTER L. SMITH BS., MS., TYRONE HUMBLES, SHELLEY HIGHTOWER PHARMD, ALFRED EVANS RPH., MS., ADRIENE EDMUNDSON, LYNN MICHELLE CLARK, BELINDA PARKER-BROWN, REV. C.T. VIVIAN, JELANI ZIMBABWE CLEMENT, BS., MBA., WILLIE GUINYARD BS., BRAHM FISHER ESQ., JOSEPH WEBSTER MD., ESTER HYATT PHD., BRAHM FISHER ESQ., MICHELE ALEXANDER, DEBRA LYNN SHEPHERD, BS., CUDJOE WILDING, BERES E. MUSCHETT, STRATEGIC ADVISOR 

BY

RICHARD “RED” LAWHERN

From time to time. I post repeats of past papers I have offered to email distribution lists, in mainstream medical journals, or in popular media.  Thus, I’m passing along what I call “The Opioid Crisis in Three Charts”. These charts were published last year in a paper on Dr. Lynn Webster’s blog, and I’ve used them repeatedly in other published work, including a June 2019 editorial in the respected STAT News within the Boston Globe Group. (1)

Taken together, these charts demonstrate that over-prescribing did not cause and is not sustaining our so-called “opioid epidemic”. The original data were published by the US CDC Wonder Database and the National Multiple Cause of Death database.  But CDC has actively refused ever to publish these data together in one place to allow an assessment of the implications for policy.  I regard this refusal as gross malfeasance.

From data published by CDC, we know that opioids are prescribed three to six times more often among seniors over age 62 than they are to youth under age 19. But overdose-related mortality in youth is three to six times higher than in seniors. Mortality has been stable for the past 17 years in seniors while it has skyrocketed in youth.   More basically, there is simply no cause-and-effect relationship between State-by-State prescribing rates versus overdose mortality.  Although mortality overall has risen sharply since 2010, it remains below national average in States with the highest medical prescribing rates.

LOS SUENOS, COSTA RICA

In short, the basic premises of the 2016 CDC guidelines on prescription of opioid analgesics to adults with chronic non-cancer pain are wrong.  And CDC KNOWS they are wrong!

Higher overdose mortality from 2010-2020 is a direct outgrowth of socioeconomic factors and the invasion of illegal Fentanyl into US street markets. We also know from State-level analysis of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs data that when a prescription-type opioid is found in postmortem toxicity screens, it is likely to be only one substance among several, including illegal or diverted drugs and alcohol. Our “drug crisis” is driven by illegal drugs, not prescriptions.

Doctors who treat pain are NOT at fault in the opioid crisis. They never were. CDC policy seeking to force restrictions on opioid prescribing — at a huge and growing cost to patients — must change NOW, not a year from now. 

See charts below:

Who is prescribed opioids for pain?

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Who Dies from Opioid Overdose?

Outlook-cemzfnav.png

Are Overdose Deaths “Caused” By Prescribing?

Outlook-tat3fbxs.png

Prescriptions are NOT the problem in our US “opioid overdose” crisis. Present US National regulatory policy on prescription opioids and doctors who prescribe them is fundamentally misdirected.

STOP PERSECUTING DOCTORS FOR LEGITIMATELY PRESCRIBING OPIOIDS FOR CHRONIC PAIN

According to Richard Lawhern, June 19, 2020 article, “STOP PERSECUTING DOCTORS FOR LEGITIMATELY PRESCRIBING OPIOIDS FOR CHRONIC PAIN” in STAT+ online news states: 

The damage to healthcare providers and the chronic pain patient population is devastating and the DEA never takes into account the clinical needs of the patients.  It’s as if they have criminalized pain management without the benefit of clinical knowledge. (1)

Doctors should have gotten the message by now that deserting patients is a violation of medical practice standards, not to mention human rights. But they haven’t. On the contrary, they’ve been hearing about other doctors who got raided by Drug Enforcement Agency swat teams, their patients terrorized, medical records seized, and practices ruined by announcements in local news media. Compounding such brutal tactics, chain pharmacies have compiled high prescriber lists, blacklisting “top prescribing” physicians and denying prescription pain medication to their patients.”

I look forward to receiving a commitment from CDC to independently repeat the data analysis reported above with the publication of your results.

FOR NOW, YOU ARE WITHIN THE

YOUWITHINTHENORMS.COM , (WYNTON MARSALIS CONCERTO FOR TRUMPET AND 2 OBOES, 1984)

Norman J Clement, Aaron Howard, Lynn Michelle Clark, Rick Fertil demand the return of our DEA pharmacy Control Substance Registrations Immediately.

NORMS

ENDNOTES

  1. About the author:

Technically trained, non-physician subject matter expert on public policy for the regulation of prescription opioids
25 years experience, 30,000+ patient contacts in social media patient support groups

Practical Pain Management, Journal of Medicine (US College of Physicians), Pain News Network, STAT News, others No financial or professional conflicts of interest

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