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Narcan for Drug Sniffing Dogs

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It’s not only people who are victims of the opioid epidemic. Man’s best friend is at risk as well. “It’s a little-known side effect of the opioid epidemic that working dogs like Lord are at high risk of accidentally overdosing while on the job. With their incredible sense of smell — thousands of times better than humans — narcotics-sniffing dogs such as Lord are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic.” (https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/wisconsin/2018/02/19/police-dogs-risk-accidental-overdose-opioid-epidemic/341609002/). “Among the reports of police dogs overdosing were three in Broward County, Florida, who became ill after searching a home used by someone suspected of selling heroin laced with fentanyl in 2016. The three dogs became listless, stopped responding to their handlers, refused to drink water and had trouble standing. One of the dogs began hyperventilating and passed out but was revived with Narcan.” (Id.)

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A $17,850.00 Pee Test?

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THE $17,850.00 URINE DRUG SCREEN!

“After Elizabeth Moreno had back surgery in late 2015, her surgeon prescribed an opioid painkiller and a follow-up drug test that seemed routine — until the lab slapped her with a bill for $17,850.” (https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/19/health/opioid-drug-test-bill-partner/index.html). “The lab also billed $850 to test for buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, and tacked on an $850 fee for two tests to verify that nobody had tampered with her urine specimen.” (Id.). We all know how much money the opioid manufacturers are making pushing these drugs, but we might overlook the parasites in the mix.

“Urine testing for patients with chronic pain has grown explosively over the past decade amid a rising death toll from opioid abuse. Pain doctors say drug testing helps them make sure patients are taking the drugs as prescribed and not mixing them with illegal substances. Yet the testing boom costs billions of dollars annually and has raised concerns that some labs and doctors run urine tests needlessly — or charge exorbitant rates — to boost profits.” (Id.). “In one suit, Drs. Purvi Patel and Lance LaFleur also alleged that the pain clinics “pressured” doctors to overprescribe medical gear and genetic tests to insured patients “regardless of medical necessity.” The case did not go forward because the doctors did not pursue it. Neither doctor would comment. In the second legal case, pain specialist Dr. Baominh Vinh said he resigned in April 2015 “based on certain questionable business practices … that are inconsistent with my ethical boundaries.” Vinh also alleged urine testing was overused. In a countersuit against Vinh, the pain clinics called his allegations a “falsehood” to justify violation of his employment contract.” (Id.).

Highmark Limits First-Time Opiate Prescriptions to 7 Days

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“In their latest attempts to combat the raging opioid epidemic, some health insurers are limiting new opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply. Highmark announced Thursday that it will put that restriction into effect starting March 8 for job-based plans, with individual and Medicare plans following later. It will also start requiring prior authorization for extended-release opioids if members have not been on an opioid recently.” (http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/in-fight-against-opioid-epidemic-highmark-will-start-limiting-first/article_92d1b1fe-125d-11e8-8038-f7078716c636.html). Regardless of Highmark’s motives (one possibility is financial), this is one way to take a strong stance and to actually do something.

Mother Jones Writer Challenge: Ask Anything about the Opioid Epidemic

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“I Cover the Opioid Epidemic Full Time. Ask Me Anything” “I’ve covered the opioid epidemic since 2016, trying to make sense not only of the tens of thousands of lives lost each year, but of the millions more affected by the crisis. The articles have taken the form of timelines and explainers on how overzealous opioid prescribing transformed into a scourge of heroin and fentanyl, deep dives on successful efforts to treat addiction and reduce opioid prescriptions, stories on what Trump’s proposed policies and nominees mean for the epidemic, and profiles of the many who are touched by addiction: children flooding into foster homes, cops feeling like they’re playing “whack-a-mole,” pregnant moms with few options, parents who have lost children to overdose.” (https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/02/i-cover-the-opioid-epidemic-full-time-ask-me-anything/). Thanks for covering this topic and engaging with your readers!

Purdue Doing Damage Control

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The headline is “Purdue’s action on OxyContin not a selfless action.” The article states,”As lawsuits have been mounting against Purdue — it paid out $600 million in 2007 for civil and criminal charges related to marketing — the company had to change directions.” (http://www.robesonian.com/features/health/107834/purdues-action-on-oxycontin-not-a-selfless-action). Exactly! They are not acting out of the goodness of their hearts or out of learning that hooking people on drugs is not really a good thing to do from a moral perspective.

You Want a Quick Video Lecture on the Opioid Epidemic?

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For those that would rather watch than read… here’s great information in video format… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rBDcbkz_60&list=FLaC0RSbJSA6elCRE6c8trbQ#action=share. My only criticism is that if I were the narrator, I’d have been much more dramatic… along the lines of Lewis Black… while the narration is monotone, the message and information is one that should rile you!

When Prescribers Can No Longer Be Trusted, We See Headlines Like, “We need federal limits on prescribing opioids”

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Starting with the headline, “We need federal limits on prescribing opioids,” the article, written by Richard S. Larson, M.D., Ph.D., goes on to state, “This starts with acknowledging that the medical establishment helped create the crisis in the first place by over-prescribing opioids to treat chronic non-cancer pain. An often-overlooked fact is that there was a marked change in the culture of prescribing on the part of physicians and other clinicians starting a few decades back. Aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies played a role, as did the possibility of under-treating pain, the availability of new, long-acting opioid formulations and lack of education on the part of prescribers regarding the abuse potential of opioids. Once opioid-phobic, U.S. physicians have seemingly become liberal opioid prescribers.” (http://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/374474-we-need-federal-limits-on-prescribing-opioids).

Well, Richard S. Larson, M.D., Ph.D., let me set you and those that might buy into your blame physicians mentality straight. Many of us, heck,  most of us, dare I say the vast majority of us? The vast majority of us were taught that narcotics, opiates, addictive drugs, etc. were to be used only as short term relief or in end of life situations. We respected these drugs. We prescribed them properly. When the opioid manufacturers and distributers decided they had an untapped cash cow on their hands, they hired bad doctors to go on tour and “teach” that patients deserved to be pain free, that opioids were not addictive, and that signs of addiction were really signs of a previously undiscovered disease called “pseudoaddiction” (which, by the way is treated by increasing the patient’s opiate load). Many of us, shook our heads in disbelief and felt no one would believe these “lecturers.” However, the next thing we knew the fifth vital sign was “pain.” We were forced to ask patients to rate their pain from 1-10 at every visit. Patients were bombarded with messages telling them that of their doctor does not treat their pain (meaning relieve it completely), then that doctor is a bad doctor. The governmental oversight committees were hit with bogus studies and their influence was bought which caused them to mandate the treatment of chronic pain with opiates and requires insurers to pay for the opiates. Were there some bad doctors? Sure! Were there a lot of them? No! What the majority of doctors, those of us that know what we are doing, do not need is someone telling us how to practice medicine.