Friday, August 26, 2016

Counterfeit drugs killed Prince, are killing thousands

The drug that killed Prince is showing up in counterfeit form across the US with devastating effects.

Pills found at his home were marked hydrocodone but actually contained fentanyl. Fentanyl powder is cheap and easy to obtain, experts warn, making it attractive to those manufacturing it into pill form mixed with other drugs.

To someone who travels a lot - like Prince - and needs a prescription filled, an online pharmacy could seem like a real lifesaver. It could, however, be the opposite.

“We’ve seen it happen regularly—if a shortage occurs, hospitals and clinics will step outside the normal supply chain, and the [criminals] exploit the situation,” says Michael Deats with the WHO. Estimates from different organizations over the past few years have ranged from 100,000 to a million people dying every year due to counterfeit drugs. [Read more about that here.]
"If the cartels could, they would shake the hand of the medical industry and thank them for creating this new business."

Why are so many patients taking opiate-based painkillers regularly? "There was a push by the pharmaceutical industry and their paid physician advocates that pushed opiates saying they aren't as addictive as we thought," says Minneapolis Dr. Chris Johnson. "So they can be used for back pain and other daily pain. They influenced government bodies to emphasize pain management.” 

Can't these patients be given some other type of painkiller? Dr. Mark Willinbring describes how his patients feel when they are suddenly taken off opiates.

"You can't experience ordinary pleasure. Every day is a gray day. You have no energy. You have no motivation," Willinbring says. "You have a low grade case of the flu all the time. Your bones and joints ache. And your brain is constantly screaming 'I want more opioids.' It doesn't get better over time."

"Right now the biggest crisis I am seeing is people with severe disabling chronic pain who are summarily and arbitrarily taken off of them," Willinbring says. "It ruins their lives. I think we are going to see a lot of suicides." [Read more…] 

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