Prescription Painkillers Finally Have Regulations: What Took So Long?

Prescription Painkillers Finally Have Regulations: What Took So Long?

Posted By Schick Shadel Hospital || Sep 19, 2016

Prescription painkiller deaths have nearly quadrupled since 1999, approximately 165,000 people have died from prescription opiate overdoses since 2000, and opioids accounted for more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined in 2012. Despite those terrifying statistics, one group has dedicated itself to ensuring that these increasingly dangerous products remain easily accessible to patients suffering from all kinds of injuries.

The Pain Care Forum, a loose coalition of drug makers and their affiliates, was created a little over a decade ago, and its members have spent that time convincing government officials that prescription painkillers are key to combating pain in America, something they referred to as a “crisis of epidemic proportions” in a 2012 letter sent to United States senators.

The letter cited a report that estimated that over 100 million people in the United States were suffering from chronic pain – a report that came out of legislation authored by experts from the Pain Care Forum. Before the 1990’s, prescription painkillers were only used to treat patients suffering from severe pain caused by a severe injury, surgery, or a terminal illness, but today they are some of the most prescribed medicines in the country and bring in billions of dollars every year for their manufacturers.

These manufacturers, through the Pain Care Forum, spent more than $740 million between 2006 and 2015 lobbying in statehouses across the country and in Washington D.C., including spending over $140 million on political campaigns over that stretch. That money managed to keep the prescription of painkillers free from guidelines up until this year when the first set of federal guidelines designed to reduce the rampant prescription of opioids like Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin was finally published.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their guidelines for prescribing opioids to patients suffering from chronic pain in March of this year. When the initial draft of the guidelines came out in September of 2015, members of the Pain Care Forum claimed that they weren’t based on any solid evidence, and attacked the CDC’s decision to keep the names of their experts private. The CDC eventually released those names, and a Congressional investigation into the CDC’s development of the guidelines requested by the Academy of Integrative Pain Management – a longtime member of the Pain Care Forum – found no violations.

It’s important to note that the CDC was not advocating for the total removal of prescription painkillers from our nation’s healthcare system. Rather, they stated in the guidelines that:

“Experts agreed that opioids should not be considered first-line or routine therapy for chronic pain… outside of active cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care, given small to moderate short-term benefits, uncertain long-term benefits, and potential for serious harms… Rather, expected benefits specific to the clinical context should be weighed against risks before initiating therapy.”

Prescription painkillers are highly addictive and result in tens of thousands of deaths every year due to overdoses. Given the money at stake - Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin made $22 billion in the past 10 years alone – the battle between pharmaceutical companies and organizations attempting to address that growing epidemic is likely to last for years. However, people suffering from opiate addiction don’t have years. Here at Schick Shadel, we have been treating patients suffering from addiction with our counter conditioning method. This method has helped more than 65,000 patients over the past 80 years overcome their addictions, and can help you too. Send us a confidential message today, or call us at (888) 802-4206 to learn more about how we can help you regain control of your life.

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