Drug-free pain care gaining recognition

DEAR EDITOR:

In the face of evidence that drug manufacturers and distributors knowingly pushed huge numbers of opioid pain pills on Americans, people are searching for safer cost-effective pain solutions. In response, Gov. Mike DeWine signed a proclamation designating September 2019 Drug Free Pain Management Awareness Month.

The need for drug-free solutions has hardly diminished. In 2017, 191 million opioid prescriptions were written in the U.S. — six times the number written in 1999. About 80 percent of heroin users began with prescription opioids. Still, 130 people per day die of opioid overdose.

Though government agencies and drug companies fought to keep it secret, a court order recently forced the Drug Enforcement Agency to release data on quantities of pills shipped 2006 to 2012 for oxycodone and hydrocodone, the most commonly prescribed opioids, showing that over 76 billion of those pills were shipped across America, including almost 4 billion to Ohio! As the opioid epidemic deepened, numbers increased from 8.46 billion pills in 2006 to 12.66 billion in 2012.

Documents show these companies knew exactly what they were up to. A 2009 email conversation shows a drug distributor executive saying, “Keep ’em comin’! Flyin’ out of here! It’s like people are addicted to these things or something. Oh, wait, people are …” A big pharma sales rep replied “Just like Doritos. Keep eating. We’ll make more.”

Trumbull County received 81.8 million pills between 2006 and 2012 — 54 pills per person, per year!

Mahoning County received 76 million pills — 44 per person, per year.

2019 has brought us major and highly publicized trials regarding responsibility for the opioid crisis. Still, some 2000 cases will be heard this fall in Cleveland federal court. After recent private negotiations Purdue Pharma, makers of Oxycontin, offered to settle for a sum of $10 to 12 billion dollars. It is estimated that Purdue’s Oxycontin sales have exceeded $35 billion. A 2017 White House Council estimate on the cost of the opioid epidemic to date was $500 billion. There is hardly anyone who has not been profoundly affected by this crisis or does not know someone who has.

Clearly, opioids were not the way to manage acute and chronic back and neck pain and other musculoskeletal conditions, yet our drug-based medical system is simply turning to drugs to manage pain.

Chiropractic is the largest, best -regulated and most organized drug-free health care profession. It is proven effective by evidence and clinical trials and is generally lower in cost than conventional health care while achieving significantly higher patient satisfaction ratings. For these reasons, our leaders are recognizing September as Drug Free Pain Management Awareness Month.

Dr. Pat Ensminger

Warren

Co-chair, Ohio Chiropractic Association Opioid Task Force

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