By Gifford Jones on July 29, 2019.
Why is it that patients in severe pain from serious diseases are being denied painkillers? A report from the Chronic Pain Association of Canada (CPAC) states that it’s easier for addicts to obtain painkillers than non-addicted patients in desperate need of them. You might say this does not make sense. But the lack of common sense, uncommon as it is, does not surprise. During the past 50 years I’ve seen a ton of hypocrisy that results in needless, disabling pain.
The report states, “Bad and distorted research used by Health Canada leads to tragedy for many Canadian patients.” It charges that to deal with overdose deaths among illicit drug users Health Canada decided on a new tactic.
The decision was to go after chronic pain patients and their doctors in the mistaken belief this would reduce deaths. In effect, they are in part blaming the opioid epidemic on the doctor-prescribed medicines needed by patients.
As a result, the prescribing of these drugs has plunged.
But CPAC says this strategy is misguided and the government’s position is perplexing. In a closer examination of the research, the government acknowledged that illicit drugs were fueling the opioid epidemic, not prescribed drugs from doctors.
CPAC adds that even Health Canada’s own “Opioid-Related Harms in Canada” indicates that most hospitalizations involve heroin and synthetic opiates, such as street fentanyl, not drugs prescribed by physicians. In fact, a British Columbia report shows that street fentanyl was involved in 92% of overdose deaths. And that the fastest increase in hospitalizations was due to young people.
It boggles the mind that government would believe doctor’s patients, the ones who truly need opioid drugs, are fueling the opioid crisis. I’ve argued for years that it is careless youth and ineffective social programs that have amounted to this epidemic of wasted opportunity and unnecessary pain. While young people get high, a million Canadians suffering from intractable pain have prescribed painkillers discontinued or drastically reduced.
What about the U.S.? The CPAC report states that the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and American Medical Association have all criticized this occurrence.
I have great empathy for patients suffering from chronic pain as it is soul destroying. Dr. Emiko Petrosky, of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, analyzed 123,000 suicides. She reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine that one in ten patients with sizable pain decided to end their life. The underlying cause is depression and pain.
This accusation against prescribed opioids is not the first case of medical insanity. I’ve witnessed plenty. My first encounter occurred when I tried to legalize heroin to ease the agony of terminal cancer pain. I believed it to be a humanitarian issue. This painkiller had been used successfully in England for 90 years, as I had researched and witnessed first-hand.
But I was labeled “a headline seeking medical journalist” opposed even by pain specialists at palliative care centers, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Cancer Society. Why? Because unknowing doctors argued morphine was just as good, an outright lie. And because bureaucrats were more worried about pharmacy break-ins than the well-being of people suffering extreme pain. Due to their roadblocks, it took five years to have this painkiller legalized. And following legalization, many continued to fight its use.
The fight for commonsense pain control continues. I recently called every university hospital in Toronto to see if heroin was available. Not one had a single milligram. The medical profession should be ashamed of itself.
So I’m not shocked that patients who need painkillers are being denied them. Unfortunately, history once again repeats itself. The hypocrisy continues. And patients who deserve better, are being ill-treated by asinine government regulations.
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