opioids

Aric Hausknecht, M.D., (1) who is a neurologist and a specialist in pain management, kindly agreed to speak with me about how changing opioid laws and regulations have affected his practice and patients, as well as what these changes will mean for pain patients across the U.S.

"I believe that we have reached the level of a crisis"

JB: Dr. Hausknecht, thank you for taking the time to speak with me about the radical changes in the way opioid analgesics are being viewed and prescribed. I believe that this is one of our most important public health issues at this time, and it is urgent to address it very quickly. Do you share this sense of urgency?

AH: I believe...

There is nothing more effective for treating acute pain than opioids, said University of Washington pharmacology professor Charles Chavkin at a recent discussion on the "next generation" of pain therapeutics hosted by Life Science Washington in Seattle.

For some people, however, opioids aren't just painkillers. Instead, they serve as a lure into an addictive, self-destructive lifestyle. The sense of euphoria that opioids can cause proves irresistible to some addicts. For this reason, pharmaceutical companies are seeking to discover and develop non-opioid, non-addictive drugs to treat pain.

Alternatives to Opioids

Jeffrey Herz reported that his company, Algomedix, is studying a drug that blocks a protein ion channel called...

President Trump has convened a panel to address America's opioid epidemic. Its first mission should be to find convincing data to identify the actual cause(s) of the problem. That will be much harder than it sounds, since ideologues are always in plentiful supply.

Indeed, many influential people already seem to have a strong opinion about who is to blame. Claire McCaskill, a Senator from Missouri, points her finger at pharmaceutical companies. She is launching an investigation, but there is little need for one, given that she has already told us what its conclusions are ahead of time: 

...

It is now impossible not to see that a revolution of awareness is underway in America: awareness of pain; and that the US government is lying to its own citizens by claiming a greatly exaggerated relationship between pain and prescription opioid addiction.  Sadly, there are far too many examples of the damage done. Let’s look at an especially poignant one—a recent article in STAT (an online medical newsletter produced by Boston Globe Media), which informs us that “a ‘civil war’ over painkillers rips apart the medical community — and leaves patients in fear”

As interesting as the article itself are comments from readers, many of whom are pain patients.  The majority can be characterized as “…mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more…”  (to quote from the 1976 movie ...

The overdose epidemic sweeping the nation is hitting some demographics harder than others. New data released by the CDC breaks down heroin overdose deaths by age.

As shown below, heroin overdose deaths began to skyrocket in 2010. Of all groups, older Millennials (i.e., individuals aged 25-34) are the likeliest to die from a heroin overdose. In 2015, the mortality rate from a heroin overdose was 9.7 per 100,000 for this group, which is more than quadruple the rate in 2010 (which was 2.2 per 100,000). 

 

This is a very shocking development. The overall mortality rate for Americans aged 25-34 is 108.4 per 100,000. That means more than one out of...

Babies inside the womb, as they exit and once out into the world —especially if breastfed—are influenced to varying degrees by their mother’s exposures, albeit illicit or prescription drug intake, food ingestion or smoking, to name a few.  

If a pregnant mother is chronically using opioids, for example, then birth with subsequent severing of the umbilical cord enacts an abrupt cessation of the substance to the baby.  The result is a newborn in withdrawal.  This is called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).  It can be mild or happen upon a wide array leading to severe.

A new research letter in JAMA Pediatrics...

Pain killers via Shutterstock Pain killers via Shutterstock

In a state where there are more pain management clinics than McDonald’s restaurants, Florida seems to be the epicenter of the prescription pain killer addiction epidemic. From 2003-2009(1), the rate of fatalities from opiate overdose increased more than 80 percent in the state, and 90 of the 100 doctors purchasing the greatest number of oxycodone in the country were in Florida. ...

Opioids via Shutterstock Opioids via Shutterstock

Our compassion for someone else’s pain has landed us in the hot seat. We find ourselves with 2.1 million Americans with some form of opiate-related substance use disorder as of 2012, as well as 467,000 heroin addicts. This compassion has created a monster that has contributed to the quadrupling of unintentional overdose deaths since 1999. Non-medical use of opioid pain...

knee arthritis via shutterstock knee arthritis via shutterstock

Anyone that has osteoarthritis of the knee can attest to how painful the condition can be. In fact, it's the most common cause of disability in the United States, and in conjunction with rheumatoid arthritis it affects nearly 8.6 million Americans. More than 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year with the demand increasing as...