Did You Watch 60 Minutes Sunday?

Did You Watch 60 Minutes Sunday?

60 Minutes – the nation’s venerable and preeminent television news magazine show – waded into the nation’s heroin epidemic issue on Sunday – and laid the blame for it squarely on opioid pain medication.

60 Minutes went to Ohio which, it reported, had 750 million pain pills prescribed last year in that state alone. It also said that there are 23 heroin deaths reported every week in Ohio.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says “it’s (the heroin use) is the worst epidemic I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

A particularly poignant moment came from the parents of the University of Akron football player Tyler Campbell who died of a heroin overdose. He became addicted to heroin they said after using vicodin to rehabilitate a shoulder surgery.

Absent again from the national reporting was any reference to legitimate use of pain medication.

The National Pain Report ran a story just two days before the 60 Minutes episode that featured Dr. Forest Tenant who speaks out about the responsible and appropriate use of opioid medication to treat intractable pain. In it, his “position paper” outlines the reasons for using opioid medication:

  1. We have a long-standing standard known as the World Health Organization 3 Step Analgesic Ladder which was developed in 1982. Only when non-opioid treatments fail are opioids used because about everyone knows they have complications.
  2. There cannot be a cap on dosages as patients vary.  The government should certify and recognize the MDs who will prescribe high dose opioids so patients who need high dosages can get the help they need.
  3. Patients who are currently on opioids and doing well should be left on them.

Already, some National Pain Report readers have weighed in. One of our contributing columnists, Kerry Smith who writes about chronic pain emailed me asking if I had seen the report. (I hadn’t, I was watching the World Series).

Kerry wrote encouraging me to go their website and watch it (which I did Monday morning).

“I have already emailed them and attempted to get them to look at it from a different point of view,” Kerry wrote.

Another columnist, Terri Lewis, PhD sent me this interesting video link from Blue Cross Blue Shield with Dr. Gloria Baciewicz of the University of Rochester that debunks what she calls the “myth” that being prescribed opioids always leads to addiction.

Let us know your thoughts.

Here’s a link to the 60 Minutes episode.

Follow on Twitter

@NatPainReport

@edcoghlan

@60Minutes

Subscribe to our blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

 

 

 

Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 10 comments for this article
  1. tammy toons at 3:21 pm

    Has anybody ever heard of this? I went to my doctor today and he up ed my script from 90 pills to 112 because I have been having unbearable night pain , I took my script to the pharmacy like I do every month . (I finally found a Walgreens that would fill it ) I get my script I am driving home I look on the bottle it says 100 confused I drove back to the Walgreens and said my script was for 112 were is the 12 pills? Oh they said my insurance would only pay for 100 I said ok I will pay cash for the 12 then they said no I couldn’t do that and that I should feel lucky I received the 100

  2. Katherine Parrick at 12:51 am

    Gross. Just utterly shameless misinformation & tenuous causations. Media hype & “reporting” like this is ultimately going to kill thousands of chronic pain sufferers…either directly from suicide or from the long-term stress their undertreated disease is putting on their (already taxed) bodies. Just shameful.

  3. Michelle Ziemba at 6:44 pm

    Are there any plans by the Nation Pain Report to address the obvious issues in the 60 Seconds report?

    As a former journalist, I’m appalled by the piece. There’s one basic piece of info in the piece that was flat out wrong. Opioids and opiates are different in chemical makeup though they share some properties and have the same reaction in the body.

    I plan on contacting 60 minutes myself with a letter. Perhaps if everyone here just sends in their comments above we can start to get the attention and, therefore, the medical advancements we deserve. I know we’re are all so drained by our illnesses, but I know we can all help raise awareness in our own ways.

    Best to all!

  4. Randall Brotherton at 11:22 pm

    one more thing–is there a more effective way of pushing chronic pain patients into using heroin than restricting or removing the availability of medically supervised opioid painkillers? Something to think about, yes? So, as usual, seems our gov’t is doing exactly the OPPOSITE of what it should do to attain its goals. what a shocker.

  5. Randall Brotherton at 11:16 pm

    this kind of irrational logic reminds me of the old saw that studies prove peanut butter usage leads to heroin addiction because virtually every heroin addict regularly ate peanut butter as a child.
    If people are dying of heroin overdose, hey, here’s a shocking idea–go after HEROIN users, not those using prescription opioids!
    I have an inoperable spinal condition–obstructive spinal stenosis, five occlusions. I could go in for an operation to open my spinal cord from the base of my neck to my tailbone and give a surgeon five chances to make me either a quadraplegic or paraplegic, but, y’know, when the proper dose of opioids would allow me to be active enough to care for my home and myself, I just don’t see the upside in taking the risk. But, if the DEA keeps forcing my doctor to cut my opioid medication, by this time next year–my condition is degenerative–I will need full time care, as I will be unable to care for myself at all.
    THAT’s a “better” idea?
    We need to address the reality of the situation. Our government doesn’t give a rat’s ass for our safety. As with all things concerning our government, this is about MONEY. Anyone paying any attention at all knows our gov’t is dirtying its diapers because they have stolen so much money from Social Security it has become insolvent. Too insolvent for the masses of baby boomers who are moving into range of social security incomes and those of us who jumped the gun through disability. How to get us off the books? Force us to die. How to do that? Well, withholding effective pain medication and forcing people with extreme mobility issues due to pain out of our homes once a month isn’t exactly discouraging suicide, now is it?
    I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how much longer I can hold out. They say these measures are to restrict opioid use to prevent overdoses. Well, kids, ONE prescription of my pain meds is enough to overdose on, so none of these restrictions is gonna stop ANY of us from overdosing if that is what we want to do, now is it?
    Our tax dollars at work.

  6. Brian at 5:43 pm

    I have a note in my wallet from my doctor, to give to ER staff if I ever go there. It states that I’ve been a long term chronic pain sufferer (from easily verified permanent injuries) who has never abused or misused his meds. This is because I was treated like a drug seeker when I did go to ER one time, even though I pleaded with them to phone my family doctor or my pain doctor. It was only when I tried to leave, despite severe abdominal pain, that they finally cut me some slack.

    I was put on Demerol in about 1980 for pain from back injuries. I continued for about 20 years while my pain was intermittent but severe when it hit. In 1998, I had to be taken by ambulance to hospital due to a violent spasm that had me unable to move. Prior to calling for the ambulance I asked my wife to look and see if I had any Demerol in the medicine cabinet. There were two pills left, so old they were falling apart. That’s how badly my consumption of opiates had gone off the rails in nearly twenty years.

    In 2000, my pain became a chronic condition in a span of a few months. Obviously with that development, my intake changed. For several reasons I went to morphine that proved hard on my stomach and then an equivalent dose in Dilaudid. But since about the Fall of 2000 my narcotic level hasn’t changed much at all. For a while I was give slow release product as well, which made me more comfortable but messed with my sleep, so I cut it off. I cut it off even though it meant being clearly less comfortable.

    Now in 2016, I still take approximately the same amount even though in the past five years I’ve also developed peripheral pain from Fibro. As most readers know, Fibro isn’t always well treated will with narcotics whereas my injury pain is controlled well with narcotics. It’s only recently that I finally got Cymbalta and it works for the periperhal pain typical of Fibro. But in the meantime, for five years of peripheral pain, I did not continue to use Dilaudid for that pain once it proved to be ineffective. I just used Dilaudid for my injury pain.

    My circumstance should point out two things:
    Many chronic pain sufferers with years of “experience” will suffer pain from more than one source, each of which will have it’s own discreet approach.

    I’ve never gotten high from my meds and I don’t care to thankyou. If you look at my life, I struggle still to be active, working on boats & motorcycles and living in a rural area. I don’t have time for pain, let alone recreational drugs.

    Its hurtful to read statements suggesting that anyone on narcotic pain meds will likely end up going through some “gateway” to heroine, because I am not unusual. I hate having to take meds of any kind but I need narcotics to avoid being in terrible pain. I’ve put my pain doc’s nurse in tears when she witnessed one of my monster spasms. People who speak out on these issues MUST take responsibility for the statements they make and the sufferers who may be hurt if they are denied meds that are adequate and appropriate to their needs.

  7. BL at 2:51 pm

    If millions of Americans are not having their pain managed adequately, where are they and their families ? I understand that chronic pain untreated can affect your ability to go and do things like protest. But, what about the families of chronic pain patients, why aren’t they vocal and visible ? Chronic pain patients will not receive national media exposure until they and their families are vocal and visible like the addicts and their families are. Look at how much addicts and their familes have accomplished in recent years due to national media exposure.

  8. Kurt W.G. Matthies at 11:31 am

    Today I have more questions than answers.

    What has caused this sudden bump in illegal opioid use?

    Americans that believe that Vicodin prescriptions are responsible for the recent increase in Heroin abuse have their heads in the sand.

    Perhaps we should begin a movement to replace the bald eagle with the ostrich as our national symbol?

    How many untreated / undertreated people who live with daily intractable pain are turning to the street to self medicate?

    Why isn’t the national media exploring this problem?

    We are basing our conclusion on the cause of this so-called “epidemic” on bad evidence.

    We are ignoring the needs, and the suffering of millions of Americans.

    We have lost our ability to reason over this issue, and once again are depending on so-called “experts” to show us the errors of our ways.

    The experts are wrong.

    The American public needs to know that there’s a big difference between opioid abuse and opioid treatment for medical analgesia and palliative care.

    The response to this fiasco needs to come from the millions who are being refused care, and from those who have turned to the street and self-medication to treat their pain problem, due to fear and ignorance.

  9. Pam at 10:29 am

    This makes me furious!! I am so sick and tired of all this crap about addiction every where you turn.I am sorry a childs life was lost, but I am not the one responsible for that kid popping pills or taking heroin! Parents are so quick to blame the dr that their kid got hooked on heroin. Maybe if they had a better hold of their kid it wouldn’t have happened. I am in for the fight of my life here, I should not have to live in agony because of actions others CHOOSE to make,

  10. BL at 9:52 am

    I saw it. Adding up stories like the one on 60 Minutes that have been broadcast in the past few years and trying to remember similiar stories regarding chronic pain patients not receiving adequate pain management that were broadcast on network news shows. It seems that the addicts far, far outweight those not receiving adequate pain management. Which explains a lot.