While I do not know all the details of this particular story, I did hear a few things in the news story that caused me great distress. First, the young man had been recently arrested but let out of jail because of overcrowding. His parents begged the system to keep him locked up. They believe this would have saved his life. I would argue that the arrest and experience in jail only exacerbated his drug use…
We know that when you flood a community with Naloxone you reduce overdose deaths by 49%…
I don’t know where this information came from — there’s no cite or reference — but I don’t believe it’s true. Naloxone by itself doesn’t reduce overdose deaths by 49%, but I’m sure this drug has a pretty good success rate in the specific patient population that is addicted to heroin. It’s just that most people who overdose on heroin are doing drugs by themselves, hidden away from anyone who might be able to administer Narcan.
And the stigma of pain patients or their family members having to pay for an additional drug just in case of an overdose… I just don’t see how Narcan will help prevent overdoses in the pain patient population. Of course, knowing the federal government, along with peeing in a cup and pill counts, pain patients will soon be required to also buy Narcan — just in case.
What the federal government has in mind for pain patients is having us all register as drug addicts, across every state, with the information being available to just about anyone (especially future employers, insurance companies, and doctors).
You think it’s hard now to get certain medications to treat pain, just wait until the PDMPs are used nationwide. It’ll be like being on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. If you want to switch doctors, say your pain doctor just wants to do more injections — all the potential doctors you could see will be looking you up on the PDMP (hey, that rhymes), maybe even talking to your prior doctors.
The push for naloxone, which includes an expanded grants program for states to purchase the drug, is part of a new initiative to be announced Thursday by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to reduce deaths from prescription painkillers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, and heroin. Heroin-related overdose deaths increased 39% from 2012 to 2013, and prescription opioids accounted for more than a third of all overdose deaths in 2013.
Since Naloxone may help those who overdose from heroin, and since “heroin-related” deaths are on the rise, this is a great idea. However, saying Naloxone will help deaths from prescription painkillers is a little, shall we say, too hopeful? No, what will help pain patients is to have their pain adequately treated, not to have Narcan at the ready just in case of an overdose.
The HHS effort will focus on curbing overprescribing and inappropriate prescribing of pain pills, expansion of overdose reversal programs, and increasing access to treatment programs that use medication as well as counseling to help addicts…
These efforts don’t include increasing access to pain management treatments or programs — no, this is just about addiction. This whole program, all this money, it’s all about addiction.
To increase access to treatment, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will provide $12 million in grants to purchase medicine used to treat opioid addiction, such as buprenorphine, and train healthcare providers to use the medicines as part of a treatment program. The president’s budget asks for another $13 million to expand the program in 2016.
The government will also invest $20 million this year and has asked for $45 million next year for prescription drug monitoring programs which track prescriptions for narcotics to prevent addicts from going from doctor to doctor to collect multiple prescriptions. Doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals can access the databases before prescribing. The systems can also identify doctors who may be overprescribing.
“Some states have very sophisticated systems to identifying troubling patterns. Other states are less developed,” Frank said. “We’re moving toward having best practices in all 50 states.”
While the title of this article is “HHS to fund more naloxone programs to halt opioid deaths,” the link says “heroin” rather than “opioid.” Really, they are one and the same to the media, even though one is illegal and one is not.
And the drug war continues… as always, funded by the federal government… I mean, us.