We don’t want physicians to be cops — We want them to be honest.

We don’t want physicians to be cops — We want them to be honest.

Marianne Skolek

This column is written as a voice for the true victims of the prescription drug epidemic – patients and family members whose physicians were encouraged by the medical establishment to prescribe large doses of opioids. Some, like my daughter, paid for that advice with their lives.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee announced it was investigating the financial ties between pharmaceutical companies and their funded pain organizations — one being the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM). Last week, American News Report published an interview with Lynn Webster, MD, president elect of the AAPM.

I would like to address the issues discussed with Dr. Webster — from the perspective of the tens of thousands of families throughout the U.S. and Canada dealing with opioid addiction and death in epidemic proportions — escalating as much as 400% in the last decade.

Contrary to what Dr. Webster stated, the senators “do have all the facts.” That is why an investigation is being conducted. Parents and professional organizations such as Physicians for Reponsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP) have flooded Congress with facts and asked for an investigation into the loss of life — especially of young people — in the over-production and irresponsible prescribing of opioids for every level of pain.

These pain foundations have been influenced by industry — and very lucratively too. If they didn’t want to be influenced, they should have refused to have their pockets lined by Big Pharma.

Physicians told there was “little harm” from opioids

Dr. Webster said that “physicians, including myself, for a decade believed that there was very little harm associated with the prescribing of opioids and that, frankly, there was no upper limit to what we could or should give to individuals. That didn’t come out of industry; that belief, that philosophy came out of the field of medicine.”

Then Dr. Webster admits “we just didn’t have all the knowledge that we have today.”

Dr. Webster, that knowledge had been very well publicized in every state in the country and in every news publication — and our children are now dying because of the push to prescribe and use opioids.

Maybe the Senate will be convinced that this pro-opioid philosophy stopped several years ago, but I wouldn’t take it to the bank, Dr. Webster. The rise in prescription drug addiction and death does not substantiate that theory — not even close.

Pseudo-addiction

According to Dr. Webster, “There was a time, 10-15 years ago, we didn’t know that there were really as many people out there that probably wouldn’t benefit from an opioid.”

Dr. Webster, your pain foundation helped convince the medical profession that if patients exhibited addiction to opioids, it was actually a condition called “pseudoaddiction,” a phrase coined by Dr. J. David Haddox after a study of one patient.

The AAPM and other pain societies joined with Haddox in telling physicians that some patients exhibiting addiction to opioids may not really be addicted, but were showing signs of under treatment caused by “inadequate prescription of analgesics.” Incredibly, the recommended solution for pseudoaddiction was more opioids, not treatment for addiction. Dr. Haddox moved on to work for the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, where he is still gainfully employed as a vice president.

Which raises the question: Why isn’t the Senate Finance Committee investigating Dr. Haddox, the gatekeeper of opioid prescribing?

It is very noble, Dr. Webster, that you and others have been working hard at trying to solve this problem for more than six years, “long before it came on the radar” of the senators or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the prescription drug epidemic is not a six year old problem. It goes back to the falsehood of pseudoaddiction and the push to prescribe opioids. Let’s hope the Senate Finance Committee gets to the bottom of what happened and doesn’t conduct a “pseudo-investigation.”

Marianne Skolek is an activist and investigative reporter for Salem-News.com who lost a daughter to prescribed OxyContin in 2002. Marianne writes from the perspective of families devastated by the prescription drug epidemic. 

The views, opinions and positions expressed in this column are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of American News Report, Microcast Media Group or any of its employees, directors, owners, contractors or affiliate organizations. American News Report makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information in this column, and is not responsible or liable for any errors, omissions, or delays (intentional or not) in this information; or any losses, injuries, and or damages arising from its display, publication, dissemination, interpretation or use.

Opposing views, opinions and positions about this column are welcomed by American News Report and or Microcast Media Group. Publication or lack of publication of opposing views, opinions and/or positions does not imply, suggest or expressly reflect an endorsement or disapproval of the originating commentary on the part of American News Report or Microcast Media Group.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Paula pain at 5:06 pm

    Because someone makes a CHOICE to abuse medication, most often not prescribed to them by a doctor but gotten off the streets, why should that affect the people who suffer from legitament pain, get prescribed legitament medication, and follow legitament guidelines set by their doctor?

    I was hit by a drunk driver and my car flipped and I was ejected onto the highway and found 60 feet from the car. I suffer from painful joint and nerve damage and am on opioids and receive procedures every few months to burn the nerves. Should I not receive opioids because someone OD’Ed mixing their meds with alcohol or other drugs? Should I not receive pain relief so that an addict will not abuse prescription medication? Has history not shown that addicts drug of choice has changed from heroin, crack, now to prescriptions? There will always be people abusing something. What about the drunk driver that was allowed to drink at his local bar then given the keys to drive and cause my injuries? His BAC was .31 three hours later! Yet alcohol is perfectly legal with little regulation. I’d be willing to bet that there is WAY more alcohol related deaths in this country then any opioid pain medication. My medication allows me to get out of bed everyday and be a mother to a 3 year old who needs a mother who can move and pick her up. It allows me to live life! If you walked a mile in a chronic pain patients shoes you wouldn’t be saying these things. If I didn’t have the medications, like other sufferers who’s doctors have stopped prescribing out of fear, or pharmacys who claim they don’t have the meds in stock, I would take my life. A life in constant pain is not a life to live and Someone shouldn’t be forced to out of hyped up fear.

  2. Erica at 2:51 pm

    Because your daughter died in a terrible tragedy you feel you have the blanket right to assume all of us on opioids will also become addicted and die? How does 2-3% of people on opioids and who will develop an addiction over-shadow the 97% of us US and other individuals who take these medicaitons responsibly, have taken them for years, are well educated about what we take and have developed no addiction? Do you in your very ‘my point of view is the only point of view’ mind ever stop to think about dependence and tolerance for instance and how many other medications NOT just opioids ALSO cause these same problems? Anti-depressants are one of the top prescribed medications in the US and I dont hear you yelling to the world about how addictive these can be and how over-prescribed they are despite sound research showing anti-depressants ONLY WORK in the very severely depressed and do not work in the mild or moderately depressed population? Why are you not ranting away about that deception? Very illogical point of view here.