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Ep. 81 The Opioid Epidemic: Is Pharma To Blame?

J.J. Rich

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ lawsuit against Purdue Pharmaceuticals exemplifies a common narrative that lays a large part of the blame for the opioid epidemic at the feet of the manufacturer of prescription opioids for manipulating physicians into prescribing the drugs more liberally.  Is there merit to that story?

To examine that question, we have as our guest Jacob James Rich, a policy analyst at Reason Foundation.  Mr. Rich holds master’s degrees in economics and mathematics from Eastern Michigan University.  Prior to joining Reason, he conducted research for the Cato Institute focused on opioids and the drug war.

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RELATED EPISODE:

Ep. 68 The Opioid Epidemic: A Solo Physician’s Hopeful Response (with guest Molly Rutherford, MD)

1 Comment

  1. Rafael Cruz, MD on 06/16/2019 at 8:43 PM

    Oh, it’s true- what you mentioned about doctors being targeted and handsomely rewarded. My partner was the medical director of our practice and he was very much a pharm sweet heart. He made a ton of money on lectures, nationally. And, he prescribed a ton of opioids.

    I was pretty conservative in that regard, except when it came to certain conditions like cancer, reflex sympathetic dystrophy and others, yet I preferred to consult with a pain specialist to keep everyone honest and really to protect my patients from harm. Well, you can imagine, I had few pain patients (except true ones that required opioids). I also was ignored by pharm reps which was fine with me.

    I remember “Pain as the 5th Vital Sign,” and the pressure to prescribe opioids by the government and colleagues. I never submitted, but I did actively try to work on alternatives when I could. I think that the government and the VA are responsible for the epidemic.

    I was raised in Philly and not in good area. Drug addicts have all kinds of tricks they used to get pills from docs. They knew which doc was “friendly.” Some docs had lines going down the street of patients patiently waiting their turn. As I understand it, Suboxone is used to get high by some- not sure how though, but its in high demand on the streets.

    I think that the focus on addiction treatment not only involves bridging the addict with a tapering schedule, but aiding in developing a new narrative within them. That is what AA/NA does, but its not for everyone, I know. Yet, I think this should be rethought and used to research and develop new methods of not only managing addiction, but to put the problem to rest. I do have ideas on how to go about this. Yet, I doubt anyone would want to consider them because this kind of therapy requires time, money and commitment.

    Methadone clinics and such only treat the non addicted societal members who feel they should be concerned for the addicted population. Its like treating the mother of a child, by giving the child amoxicillin for a viral problem.

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