The Lethal Success of Pain Pill Restrictions

The Lethal Success of Pain Pill Restrictions – Jacob Sullum | May 9, 2018

In a speech on Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department is striving to “bring down” both “opioid prescriptions” and “overdose deaths.”

A study published the following day suggests those two goals may be at odds with each other, highlighting the potentially perverse consequences of trying to stop people from getting the drugs they want.  

Columbia University epidemiologist David Fink and his colleagues systematically reviewed research on the impact of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), which all 50 states have established in an effort to prevent nonmedical use of opioid analgesics and other psychoactive pharmaceuticals

The review covers 17 studies, 10 of which looked at the relationship between PDMPs and deaths involving narcotic pain relievers. Three studies “reported a decrease,” six “reported no change,” and one “reported an increase in overdose deaths.”

The picture looks worse when you take into account deaths involving illegally produced drugs, which now account for a large majority of opioid-related fatalities. Fink et al. found six studies that included heroin overdoses, half of which reported a statistically significant association between adoption of PDMPs and increases in such incidents.

Restricting access to pain pills also seems to be increasing the percentage of opioid users who begin with heroin. A 2015 survey of people entering treatment for opioid use disorder found 33 percent had started with heroin, up from 9 percent in 2005.

If the aim is preventing drug-related deaths, this shift is counterproductive, to say the least. Because their purity and potency are inconsistent and unpredictable, illegally produced opioids are much more dangerous than pain pills.

Comparing deaths counted by the federal government to its estimates of users suggests that heroin is more than 10 times as lethal as prescription opioids.

Policies that drive people toward more dangerous drugs help explain why deaths involving heroin and illicit fentanyl have skyrocketed in recent years, even as opioid prescriptions have declined.

That trend includes a 252 percent increase in heroin-related deaths and an astonishing 628 percent increase in deaths involving the opioid category that consists mainly of fentanyl and its analogues.

Final CDC figures for 2017 are not available yet, but the provisional numbers indicate there will be more increases.

In addition to magnifying the risks that nonmedical users face, the crackdown on pain pills is hurting patients.

Many people who have successfully used opioids to treat severe chronic pain for years now find it difficult or impossible to obtain the medication they need to maintain a decent quality of life.

The article below is of the same tone: ridiculing a government immune to facts, which persistently prosecutes a non-problem (use of pain medication) to solve a problem (addiction).

New Research Reinforces Earlier Studies Suggesting PDMPs Are Adding to Opioid Overdose Rate – May 9, 2018 – By Jeffrey A. Singer

5 thoughts on “The Lethal Success of Pain Pill Restrictions

  1. Pingback: » The Lethal Success of Pain Pill Restrictions PHARMACIST STEVE

  2. Pingback: What Every Patient Should Know About NarxCare | EDS and Chronic Pain News & Info

  3. Holly Frampton

    Thank you! Someone finally reporting the reality of what’s really going on. The ODs are primarily from heroin and illegal Fentanyl and now with the crackdown on legal prescriptions it’s forcing those in pain to suicide or self medicate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda P

      Is anyone following the money trail? from in 2015: “In November, Insight Venture Partners, a New York-based private-equity and venture-capital firm, bought an 85 percent stake in the business from Bain Capital Ventures and JMI Capital, which had been Appriss’ primary investors since 2007. Louisville-based Chrysalis Ventures LLC had been Appriss’ primary investor since 1995.” violating the oanew-equity-partner-appriss-plans-several.html

      This has been in the works for a long time. Appriss knew where they were going, acquired all the necessary funding and subsidiaries. Who is behind it? This would make some fine investigative reporting. I’m not usually an internet conspiracy theorist, but why would regulators insist that doctors were undertreating pain, indeed, to the point of prosecuting doctors who undertreated pain. Then why would they flip the situation, and blame doctors for the addiction and overdose deaths. Now they’re prosecuting doctors because statistically, their “numbers” are too high, while doctors are violating their oath to do no have by abandoning their patients out of fear for their licenses.
      The CDC is full of smart idealistic people, they can see the discrepancy in the statistics of OD’s and prescriptions.

      Who is profiting? We need to track down and follow the money and we need to remember that if we’re not at the table, we’re on the menu.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Zyp Czyk Post author

        You’re right. I also believe that some of the “smart idealistic people” at the CDC are anti-opioid evangelists – that’s my explanation for the deliberately biased and unscientific opioid guideline.



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