White House Misses Mark on Opioid Addiction Epidemic, Says Phoenix House CMO
“In state after state, this issue came up again and again – from so many people, from all walks of life, in small towns and big cities,” she wrote in an op-ed published by the New Hampshire Union-Leader.
Clinton’s plan, released Sept. 2, includes $7.5 billion in federal-state partnerships to create treatment programs, and holds out the potential of matching $4 in federal money to every $1 invested by a state government.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) heard about the crisis of opioid addiction during an August roundtable discussion with physicians, patients and government officials in Brewer, Maine.
“Opioid abuse has devastated too many lives, torn apart too many families, and imperiled too many communities in our state,” King said in a statement released at the conclusion of the roundtable event.
He also said that according to a 2014 CDC study Maine has the nation’s highest rate of prescriptions for long-acting, extended-release opioid pain relievers and is ranked 11th in its prescription rate for its high-dose opioid pain relievers.
The Maine Attorney General’s Office has reported the overall number of drug overdose deaths in 2015, which currently stands at 105, is on track to be similar to 2014, when 208 people died of overdoses – the worst year on record.
“Today’s discussion was a troubling assessment of that fact, but it was also a meaningful step forward to better understand how the federal government can expand its efforts to curb this terrible epidemic,” King added. “It’s clear that more must be done to help those gripped by addiction and that it will take a robust, concerted, and coordinated effort.”
However, all the money in the world won’t be able to solve the federal bureaucratic miscommunication on the opioid drugs that Kolodny said is chaining hundreds of thousands of Americans to their medicine cabinets — and providing their children with a steady stream of drugs to steal.
Kolodny said the CDC has been trying to get the word out to doctors to be cautious and stop over-prescribing opioids. But the Food and Drug Administration keeps approving new opioids and has even now approved the prescription of OxyContin for children.
Kolodny said before the FDA’s edict any doctor could prescribe OxyContin to a child suffering end-of-life cancer pain.
“But with this, they have now given the manufacturer of the drug permission to market the prescription of OxyContin to children 11 years of age and older, in the midst of an epidemic of opioid addiction caused by over-prescribing the medication.”
There is also another problem that all the money in the U.S. may not be able to solve: chronic pain and the number of middle-aged baby boomers who are hurting more every day.
The demand side of the equation for pain relief is not going away anytime soon.
"We have an aging population," Robert Bonakdar, MD, director of pain management at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in La Jolla, Calif., said in an article published by WebMD. "As the baby boomers get older, we're going to have more and more people with chronic back pain, (and) osteoarthritis.”
Here’s the kicker: While the parents of baby boomers were from the school of “grit your teeth and bear it” when it came to physical ailments like back pain, their children are not.
"I think that baby boomers are less likely to accept the status quo," Steven P. Cohen, MD, an anesthesiologist in the division of pain medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine told WebMD.
"They have a sense of entitlement. Living the rest of their lives in chronic pain is just unacceptable."