“Can you believe it? The DEA knew that manufacturers and pharmacy suppliers dumped 76 billion opioid pills into the American market between 2006 and 2012 but did nothing!”
“Mallinckrodt, Endo, Actavis, and Pan Pharmaceuticals manufactured 88 percent of those pills. Cardinal Health, McKesson, Johnson and Johnson, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, companies we trust and deal with every day, distributed the opioid crisis, not regular physicians such as we have working in Winchester,” I replied.
“You docs certainly have taken a lot of heat.”
“Government officials and the media have painted us as the evil over-prescribers of hydrocodone and oxycodone,” I replied. “My prescriptions for 90 hydrocodone a month to grandma with hypertension, diabetes, and terrible arthritis in her back and knees was never the issue.
“Making these solid citizens pee in a cup for their refills every three months serves no purpose. Each urine drug screen costs $200, which drives up health-care costs. I have 200 such patients and found NO ONE that I suspect of not taking their medications and instead selling them on the street for $8 a pill.”
“Didn’t the drug manufacturers come up with all sorts of products to prevent misuse?” asked Phineas.
“I recall manufacturers hosted many dinner programs to introduce all sorts of new opioid formulations to prevent diversion and misuse,” I replied. “To make matters worse we physicians were made to feel incompetent at assessing patient’s need for opioids. We were told we needed to heed the fifth vital sign, namely pain, and provide medications at whatever dose it took to relieve our patient’s pain.”
“Is it realistic to believe you can relieve 100 percent of some one’s pain?” asked Phineas.
“No. I make that clear to patients. I use physical therapy and combinations of other non-opioids to reduce pain, not just load up on more hydrocodone.”
“The DEA certainly dropped the proverbial ball in Florida in terms of monitoring and shutting down revolving door operations where fraudulent physicians performed cursory exams, wrote for enormous quantities of opioids, then patients, customers really, went next door to fill their prescriptions before driving home to Tennessee or Kentucky.”
“Aren’t there laws requiring pharmacists and distributors notify authorities if they smell a red flag rat?”
“I recall a West Virginia town pharmacy received then dispensed enough hydrocodone for every man, woman, and child to receive a thousand pills per month.”
“Everyone was making tons of money,” replied Phineas. “No reason to blow the whistle on their personal gravy train.”
“Towns were flooded with opioids, which became illicit and directly responsible for 100,000 deaths and the tremendous financial strain on local emergency services.”
“I heard that entire towns have been turned into unemployment wastelands where opioid addicted zombies roam the streets without hope of any help.”
“Where does the opium come from? Are we in Afghanistan to protect the supply chain?”
“Sounds as if you physicians are due a big fat apology from those who accused you of inappropriately providing and over-prescribing opioids,” said Phineas.