There comes a time in the career of a healthcare professional when making a living should come second to doing the right thing for the patient. That time passed with the opioid crisis and the doctor and the pharmacist failed miserably. While heroin and fentanyl are the primary killers now, the epidemic will not stop unless far fewer prescriptions are written for opioids that hooked the people in the first place and the pharmacist who actually sees the patient calls a halt to filling these dangerous drugs. We are now facing the deadliest drug crisis in North American history. Over 97 million people took prescription painkillers in 2015, 12 million did so without being doctor directed. It started with opium, but then the pharmaceutical companies developed a slew of other drugs like morphine, heroin vicodin, percocet and oxycontin  followed by synthetic drugs like fentanyl and methadone. Opioids are powerful pain killers but debilitatingly addictive. Addiction goes back centuries, but our present problem started in the 1980s. A group of highly influential medical journal articles relaxed long-standing fears amoung doctors about prescribing opioids and the medical industry in the middle 1990s began aggressively marketing OxyContin. Here is where  Purdue Pharma enters the picture with their focus on elimination of pain, and their drug being non addictive. Without question this was fraudulent marketing done for the purpose of making money, BIG money. Sales grew. OxyContin was the leading drug of abuse in the U.S. and this drug offered no advantage over other appropriate doses of opioids contrary to Purdue Pharma advertising. From 1996 until 2001 Purdue conducted more than 40 national pain-management  and speaker training conferences in resort areas with over 5000 physicians, pharmacists and nurses in attendance. The doctors deny this but it certainly influences their prescribing habits. And would you believe this ,Purdue used a patient starter coupon that gave away the drug free for from 7-30 days.  The American government (FDA) said the addiction was very rare in 1996 on the label  but in 2001 they changed their comments on the label for this drug to say that establishing the true incidence of addiction was not available. On May 10,2007 Purdue Frederick Company Inc, an affiliate of Purdue Pharma, along with 3 company executives pled guilty to criminal charges of  misbranding OxyContin by claiming it was less addictive and paid $634 million in fines. There is a problem which I should not overlook.  Drugs coming in from China and Russia which cause many of the overdoses as they are not made well ,and when mixed with local drugs cause overdoses.

Lets talk now about government and their place in this disaster. Take a guess which industry gives the most money to politicians when they run for political office. You hit the nail on the head. It is the pharmaceutical industry and now anybody with a modicum of intelligence can see why with elections coming up every 4 years the politicians cater to the whims of the pharmaceutical executives. Money talks LOUDLY.

I just read an article in the National Post, a Toronto newspaper. Brilliant solution to the Opioid crisis. In England all the prescriptions written by a physician is put on the Web the first Friday of every month. OH My God!! That would end the prescription written crisis in a few days here in Canada. The name of the physician appears, but not the patient.






Name of author

Name: Murray Rubin

Short Bio: I was born in Toronto in 1931 to a wonderful mother who divorced shortly before my birth. I owe a great deal of my success to her. I am Jewish but not at all religious, yet my culture plays an important part of my personality. I attended Harbord Collegiate and U. of T. Faculty of Pharmacy. A unique mail-order pharmacy was the first of my endeavours in the profession, followed by many stores throughout Ontario. I have a loving wife, 3 children and grand-children and I am now retired from pharmacy. But what do I write about? Everything! My topics are funny, serious, whimsical, timely, outrageous, inspiring, and inventive. I promise that if you take the time to read any one of these topics – you will not be sorry.

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