8/14/2014, CDC Awards Utah $1 Million to Address Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that Utah will be one of five states in the country to receive more than $1 million over the next three years to help prevent prescription drug overdoses and address the patient and prescribing behaviors that drive it…

Data from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) show:

• An average of 21 adults died each month from prescription drug overdose in Utah. Oxycodone, methadone, and hydrocodone are the top three prescription pain medications that contributed to these deaths.

• Utah has the fifth highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States. In 2011, Utah had 19.5 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people compared to 13.2 deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S. In 2012, 261 people died from prescription pain medication overdoses in Utah.

• Opioid prescribing rates in Utah are higher than the U.S rate. In 2012, Utah providers wrote 85.8 opioid pain reliever prescriptions per 100 people (individuals may have had more than one opioid pain reliever prescribed to them), the twenty-second highest prescribing rate in the country and above the U.S. rate (82.5/100 people).

• 24.5% of Utahns reported using some type of prescribed opioid during the previous year. Most Utahns who die from a drug-related death suffer from chronic pain and take prescribed pain medications. (2008 BRFSS)

This new funding will give states a surge of resources and direct support from CDC to apply the most promising prevention strategies. Overall, CDC has committed $6 million over the next three years to help five states (Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia) improve their prescription drug monitoring programs, and conduct rigorous state policy evaluations to understand the most effective prevention strategies.

In an era of budget cuts — like to payments for Medicaid doctors — who do you think is funding the CDC’s war against pain patients?  Perhaps the funds are from the ACA?

12/20/2013, Prominent pain doctor investigated by DEA after patient deaths

What makes the allegations against Lifetree so stunning: Before it was sold in 2010, the clinic was run for more than a decade by Dr. Lynn Webster, an anesthesiologist and pain medicine specialist who is considered a leading expert on how to safely prescribe opioids — drugs that act on the brain to dull a person’s perception of pain.

I don’t know Dr. Webster’s history, but I assume this account is going to be one-sided…

“Dr. Webster teaches a system that supposedly makes this treatment safe and effective,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. “But when you think about the fact that he’s had multiple deaths in his clinic from overdose, it suggests that the system he is teaching is seriously flawed.”

Ah, the arrival of Mr. Kolodny… It’s so funny, when I read statements from Kolodny, I hear tiny squeaking noises, like… a mouse.

About three people die every hour in the United States after overdosing on prescription drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; most of those deaths involve prescription opioids. Utah has one of the highest drug overdose rates in the country…

In fact, the longer a patient takes high doses of prescription opioids, the more likely they are to become addicted and eventually overdose. Many pain management experts say overprescribing is at the heart of the overdose problem.

I’m too tired to point out what’s wrong with these statements…

“If you listen to what some of the leading pain specialists are saying today about opioids, they’re saying these past 15-20 years have been a disaster,” said Kolodny, a psychiatrist and chief medical officer at the Phoenix House, a nonprofit addiction treatment organization. “We’re harming far more of our patients than we’re helping when we prescribe opioids aggressively.”

Ah, Kolodny, what are we gonna do with you?

And now we have another grieving loved one playing the blame game:

Webb said his wife complained about migraines and jaw pain, and for years found relief with 30-pill-per-month prescriptions of Tylenol 3 and 4, painkillers containing acetaminophen and codeine. “One day she took a little bit too much medication and felt good,” said Webb. “So then she did it again, and did it again, and did it again, and then pretty soon the 30 pills wasn’t working.” 

Gee, I wonder if his wife would describe what happened in the same way?  Sounds like her jaw pain was getting worse… Maybe her husband wanted her to have surgery instead of drug therapy?

Tina Webb was accused of doctor shopping — going from doctor to doctor to get multiple pain prescriptions filled — and in 2005 was referred to Lifetree for monitoring. When she began treatment there, it was under an agreement with the district attorney. According to a document related to her case, she “…recognizes that she has not managed her pain appropriately,” and needed monitoring by a pain management clinic. But monitoring is not what Tina Webb got at Lifetree, said Webb. She was first seen by Webster, then on subsequent visits had her care handled by a nurse practitioner.

Okay, Tina shouldn’t have been doctor shopping, but was it a sign of addiction or a sign of under-treated pain?  A district attorney involved with the treatment of pain… that’s just sad.

According to an analysis of her medical records, by a physician retained by Webb’s attorney, her dosages had increased by 600% since her first visit.

Hmmm… this does sound… funky.

Roy Bosley said he got the same response when he tried to contact Lifetree staff, including Webster, about Carol Ann Bosley‘s behavior… Soon afterward, Bosley said, his wife lost weight and shed her dependence on prescription opioids, managing her pain on Tylenol only. 

Wow, that’s an amazing transformation… Wonder how her liver and kidneys were handling all that Tylenol?

But just as she was adjusting to a life free of painkillers, Bosley said she got a phone call from Lifetree, requesting that the Bosleys both meet with Webster. During that meeting, Roy Bosley said Webster convinced his wife to resume taking prescription opioids. Just over a year later, in November 2009, Carol Ann Bosley died of an overdose.

“Adjusting to a life free of painkillers”?  That doesn’t sound good… And it doesn’t make sense that a doctor would convince a pain patient to “resume” taking opioids.  Obviously, there was a problem…

A few weeks after she died, Roy Bosley said he was surprised to find that her death certificate listed “suicide” as the cause of death. He said he broached the issue with the medical examiner, and was stunned by his response. “I said, ‘Why did you label it suicide?’ And he says ‘Well, I called Dr. Webster. He told me that she committed suicide.'”

Dr. Edward Leis, the medical examiner who performed Carol Ann Bosley’s autopsy, denied having a conversation with Webster about her case. He said the original determination of suicide was made based on elevated levels of prescription oxycodone and alprazolam (a painkiller and a sedative) in Carol Ann Bosley’s system when she died.

So, why suicide and not unintentional overdose?

Leis said the amendment to her death certificate — although changes like that do not happen often — took into account additional information that Bosley provided about his wife’s state of mind before her death.

I can imagine what Mr. Bosley had to say about his wife… Should his grief be used in a medical document?

Similar to Carol Ann Bosley, after years of addiction, Tina Webb stopped taking painkillers. But it only lasted a month. Soon she was back at Lifetree asking to be prescribed opioids. Reluctantly, Bruce Webb said he participated in her new treatment plan, which involved him helping to administer his wife’s medication.

Damn, a babysitter…

What he did not know — what he said the staff at Lifetree never told him — is that Tina had become “opiate naive.” Her body could not handle pain medication at the level she was previously prescribed. “They put her back on the same drugs, the same dose,” said Webb, echoing an allegation in the lawsuit he filed against Webster and Lifetree. “So she took six pills that day (she died). That’s all it took.”

That sounds made up… As long as I was on — and off — opioids, I never became “opiate naive.” Perhaps his wife couldn’t take the pain (and all the monitoring) anymore.

“Sadly, the number of people with chronic pain has exploded over the last 10 years, escalating the problem of pain to an urgent, national crisis, one which demands a direct and honest dialogue that currently is not happening,” Webster’s statement said. “We need safer, more effective therapies and, ultimately, need to replace opioids as a treatment method so these tragedies never happen.”

Well, just as I thought, it looks like Dr. Webster went over to the dark side… Not that he didn’t have good cause to do so — nobody messes with the DEA. And there’s also that “new” Big Pharma drug that Dr. Webster is researching and funding…

Even years after their deaths, questions linger for both men; and the pain still smarts. It has been particularly difficult for Webb, who has tried to make sense of the loss for his two sons. He said, “…the heartache, the pain, the sleepless nights. It continues on. It’s not done.”

Yes, the blame game must go on… and on… and on. It’s called the Drug War.

Utah family awarded $1.6 million verdict over patient’s combined painkiller overdose death

A family of a Utah man who died from a combined drug overdose caused by treatment with opioid painkillers and other medications has been awarded a $1.6 million verdict against the hospital where the overdose occurred…

Lawyers Against Pain Patients:  Prescription painkillers are among the deadliest drugs used by patients in the U.S., according to FDA statistics.

One thought on “Utah, #10 on the list of States Where People Live Longest

  1. This pisses me off. 100,000 Americans are prescribed opiates to control chronic pain, 19 overdose and die, so now the government wants to protect us from opiates? Who failed arithmetic? I would bet my house on those odds. 100,000:19. Show me the money! – And like you said, cuts to Medicare to fund abuses to our civil rights to live without unnecessary pain and suffering? I can’t even read the rest.

    Liked by 2 people

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