Without industry backing, pain patients are screwed

I can’t help but look at successful advocacy work and compare it to the fight of pain patients against the opioid war.

Marijuana advocacy is backed by its own industry and heavily-funded groups like the Drug Policy Alliance, so it’s no wonder that the movement has been successful. While I was surprised at the success of the Standing Rock protectors against the Dakota Access Pipeline, I think it was when the veterans got involved that some success was reached. I’m also thinking about the long-term success of gun rights advocates, which also include a lot of veterans, as well as powerful industry backing.

And then there’s the recent success of kratom.

As an intractable pain survivor, I’ve kept up with the news on kratom. In fact, another pain patient even mailed some to me. I haven’t tried it yet because I’m afraid of the nausea, as I’ve read that this side effect can be severe, depending on dosage. And who knows the right dosage for me? Not me. And I don’t have the money to experiment.

When we look at the success that kratom advocates have achieved so far — against the DEA, of all foes — we have to wonder why. What have they done that pain patients have failed to do?

For one, even the kratom movement has industry backing. Which industries would back pain patients? Not the medical industry, that’s for sure. No, in fact, there are very large industries working against pain patients, including the addiction industry and the federal government.

There’s also the issue of who these advocate are — what positions they hold in this society. Most pain patients are disabled and poor. It’s hard to get anyone to listen to you when you’re disabled and poor, unless you’re supported by funding from… somewhere.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-12-12/is-kratom-a-deadly-drug-or-a-life-saving-medicine

Kratom gained popularity in the U.S. over the past decade or so, as its availability spread online and in head shops. Two or 3 grams of powdered extract steeped in hot water or whipped into a smoothie offers a mild, coffee-like buzz; doses double or triple that size can induce a euphoria that eases pain without some of the hazardous side effects of prescription analgesics. Preliminary survey data gathered recently by Oliver Grundmann, a pharmaceutical sciences professor at the University of Florida, found that American users are mostly male (57 percent), white (89 percent), educated (82 percent with some college), and employed (72 percent). More than 54 percent are 31 to 50 years old, and 47 percent earn at least $75,000 a year…

At the time, the DEA seemed less worried than the FDA. The DEA had listed kratom as a “drug of concern” for several years, but spokeswoman Barbara Carreno told the trade publication Natural Products Insider in March 2014 that kratom had “not been a big enough problem in the U.S. to control.” That posture changed several months later. On the afternoon of July 16, 2014, according to the Palm Beach Post, a 20-year-old Ian Mautner drove to an overpass in Boynton Beach, Fla., left his Isuzu Trooper, removed his sandals, and threw himself to his death on Interstate 95 below. Police found packets of kratom in his vehicle. Lab tests showed mitragynine, as well as prescription antidepressants, in his blood. He hadn’t left a suicide note.

Ian’s mother, Linda Mautner, blamed her son’s death on kratom addiction, telling the FDA that her son had ingested the leaf frequently, causing him to suffer from weight loss, vomiting, constipation, and hallucinations, among other problems. He had dropped out of college and entered rehab, but relapsed the month before he died.

Five weeks later, the DEA asked the FDA for a recommendation on whether to name kratom a controlled substance…

In the U.S., the kratom business consists mostly of retailers who buy raw leaf product from overseas farmers or a distributor. There are also wholesalers who package and encapsulate the stuff, though some retailers contract this out themselves. A recent survey by the Botanical Education Alliance, a business lobby group, counted about 10,000 vendors with annual revenue slightly over $1 billion…

The DEA issued its formal notice about kratom on Aug. 30, calling it “an increasingly popular drug of abuse readily available on the recreational drug market.” By law, the DEA’s final ruling wasn’t subject to court review. Nor did it require public comment…

Within a week, the Botanical Education Alliance and [Susan] Ash’s association hired a lobbyist, a public-relations company, and the Washington law firms Venable and Hogan Lovells, where Rosenberg had once been a partner…

More than 200 of the 660 kratom-related calls to poison centers had also involved alcohol, narcotics, or benzodiazepines, Hogan Lovells said. “Never before has DEA invoked its emergency scheduling authority to take action against a natural product with a long history of safe use in the community,” the letter read. It was signed by David Fox and Lynn Mehler, former lawyers in the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel. According to Ash, the letter cost her organization $180,000…

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9 thoughts on “Without industry backing, pain patients are screwed

  1. I hadn’t heard of kratom but I’m not surprised the feds stepped in. I’ve been fighting the war against pain patients for 16+ years now. I’ll never understand why the government wants people disabled and in agony.

    Liked by 2 people

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