|Treating Chronic Pain|
|Treating Chronic Pain|
A Primary Disease
Not too long ago, a wealthy Southern California construction entrepreneur fell victim to intense and highly debilitating pain. An internal morphine pump was then installed, upon which the entrepreneur later became very highly dependent. Worried family members, who had witnessed the manâ€™s descent from a vigorous individual engaged with life, to a listless, unmotivated and demoralized opiate addict, approached clinicians at Bayside Marin, a Northern California high-end center, seeking help.
â€œThis man had a real sense that he could never again live without that internal morphine pump,â€ says Roland Williams, a 20-yr treatment industry veteran who has been the clinical director at Bayside Marin since its opening several years ago. â€œBut we asked him if he was really ready to throw in the towel on his life, which is what keeping the internal morphine pump would have meant.â€ The upshot is that the entrepreneur agreed to enter treatment at Bayside Marin, one of the relatively few addiction treatment centers nationwide that offers a special track for treating those who have become addicted due to chronic and debilitating pain. Responsible for the medical treatment of chronic pain clients at Bayside Marin, addiction medicine specialist Dr. Raymond Deutsch says that, eventually, the manâ€™s morphine pump was discontinued. â€œHis recovery was really astonishing,â€ says Dr. Deutsch. â€œHe had the morphine pump discontinued while he was with us, successfully completed the program and has now returned home to start his life anew.â€
The FDA has admitted that no reliable studies have really ever been undertaken into the iatrogenic causes of addiction. This despite the fact that there was a very strong movement, begun in the mid-1980s and backed aggressively by certain drug makers and by pain treatment advocates, claiming that the risk of addiction from treating chronic pain with powerful narcotics medications was negligible.
But the studies upon which these claims were made, even their staunchest boosters now admit, were flawed and misused. That did not, however, stop the narcotics prescription liberalization bandwagon from developing a powerful head of steam, backed as it was in part by the deep pockets of some greedy and highly unscrupulous drug manufacturers.
Representing the apex of the narcotics prescription liberalization movement, and driven by marketing to doctors that contained outright lies and falsifications about addiction risks, Purdue Pharma in the mid-1990s took annual sales of its OxyContin narcotic pain killer from less than $50 million to over $1.5 billion over a five year period.
In the process, Purdue rained down on American society one of the most egregious epidemics of prescription drug abuse in history. In May, calling the destructive consequences of Purdueâ€™s lies about the addictive properties of OxyContin â€œstaggering,â€ federal prosecutors accepted the criminal guilty pleas of Purdue and its top executives, levying massive fines on both totaling more than $600 million. Critics said that amount was still far too low, considering the vast profits made by OxyContin and the destruction it wrought. About $130 million of the fines will go to settle civil charges brought by pain patients who say they became addicted to OxyContin as a result of being prescribed the pain killer. And there are many more civil suits from pain patients against Purdue that have yet to settle.
A Market Opportunity
On the Cover: Jacob Levinson
Founder, CEO MAP