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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 10/17/2017 09:53:39

Good Morning.

Let's get this out of the way:


that's a fucking lie. to say president obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA - he's a deranged animal.


That's from Alyssa Mastromonaco. She was President Obama's Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. She would know.

But on to the news at hand.


There's a rather lengthy read from Newsweek that you may want to invest the time to check out. I'm sure that all of us know somebody that has been affected by the opioid crisis. Whether it's a dear friend struggling with their demons, or perhaps a neighbor or somebody else in your neighborhood - you don't need to go very far to find it.

Veterans have been hit particularly hard by this, and it seems that it's a self-fulfilling prophecy at this time. Treatment policy has changed so often that it's hard to determine what the root cause is, only that an entire class of citizens was prescribed this medication for various conditions only to wind up addicts with all that term implies.


Late one summer night in 2014, Kevin Keller broke into his best friend’s home. Keller was a U.S. Navy vet wracked with constant pain, and because his right arm had been crippled by a stroke, he had to use his left hand to scrawl a note of apology to his buddy: “Marty, Sorry I broke into your house and took your gun to end the pain! FU VA!!! Can’t take it anymore.” He then drove to his nearby Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Wytheville, Virginia, and pounded on the locked doors of the medical office, probably out of frustration or as a final protest, since the facility had been closed for hours. Keller then put the barrel of his friend’s 9 mm pistol to his head and shot himself.

Grieving friends told The Roanoke Times that Keller couldn’t handle how the VA was weaning him off painkillers. His doctors had told him cutting back would extend his life, but Marty Austin, whose gun Keller stole that night, told the paper, “He did not want a longer life if he was going to be miserable and couldn’t do anything because of the pain.”

Suicides like Keller’s and the widespread despair behind them are yet another tragic element of a national opioid crisis blamed for most of the 64,000 fatal drug overdoses a year. Opioids, mostly illegally obtained counterfeit pills and heroin, now account for 63 percent of all drug deaths in the U.S., with fatalities climbing at an astounding rate of nearly 20 percent a year. In fact, the estimated number of drug deaths in 2016 topped the total number of soldiers killed in the Iraq and Vietnam wars. There’s a grim irony in that statistic, because the Department of Veterans Affairs has played a little-discussed role in fueling the opioid epidemic that is killing civilians and veterans alike. In 2011, veterans were twice as likely to die from accidental opioid overdoses as non-veterans. One reason, as an exhaustive Newsweek investigation—based on this reporter's book, Mental Health, Inc.—found, is that for over a decade, the VA recklessly overprescribed opiates and psychiatric medications. Since mid-2012, though, it has swung dangerously in the other direction, ordering a drastic cutback of opioids for chronic pain patients, but it is bungling that program and again putting veterans at risk. (It has also left untouched one of the riskiest classes of medications, antipsychotics—prescribed overwhelmingly for uses that aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as with post-traumatic stress disorder.)

A key role in spreading opiate use was played by Purdue Pharma, the OxyContin manufacturer convicted of hiding the drug's addictive properties. It gave $200,000 to the VA pain management team that essentially turned the VA into its propaganda arm, according to secret corporate documents obtained by Newsweek. The team helped develop the initial VA–Department of Defense guidelines that concluded opiates "rarely" cause addiction. A 2001 budget plan outlining Purdue’s marketing schemes hailed “additional corporate initiatives and partnering efforts [that] were very successful with the Veterans Administration” and other major health organizations in promoting the phony campaign, “Pain: The 5th Vital Sign.”

Today, the number of patients affected by the VA’s swinging opiate pendulum is staggering: 60 percent of veterans who fought in the Middle East and 50 percent of older veterans have chronic pain. Since 2012, though, there has been a 56 percent drop to a mere 53,000 chronic pain VA patients receiving opioids—leading to swift, mandated cutoffs regardless of patient well-being and with virtually no evidence that it’s a safe approach. For a taste of the kind of indifferent care vets with chronic pain are getting, consider Marine veteran Robert Rose. He is now mostly confined to a wheelchair, suffering from severe spine, neck and knee injuries from his military service—but until he was cut off from opioid pain medications last year (despite not abusing them), he didn’t need a wheelchair and was able to play with his grandkids and build finely crafted woodworks. The primary care doctor at the Mountain Home, Tennessee, VA Medical Center told a hobbled, diabetic Rose and his wife during an office visit in May, “You should continue smoking, as it will help you with the stress and frustrations you are dealing with now. And you should continue to drink Mountain Dew, as the sugar molecules will attach to the pain receptors and block the pain you are experiencing without pain medications.”

Rose is ignoring that advice and raging against how he and other veterans are being treated—and mistreated: “I am going crazy because of the pain and burning up with anger at the VA, the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and [Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)] for what they’re doing to so many Americans and veterans.”


The previous administration had come to realize the crisis, and there have been many different programs and outreach tried in the last year or so to try to alleviate the crisis. My own friend and neighbor has been a national leader in this regard, and even met with President Obama once to offer his ideas on the national scale.

New administrations usually sweep away the personnel and some of the programs of the old, but to read a story like this from the BBC is simply mind-boggling.


US President Donald Trump's nominee for drug czar is accused of helping relax enforcement on pharmaceutical firms blamed for fuelling the opioid crisis.
Pennsylvania congressman Tom Marino pushed a bill that reportedly stripped a government agency of the ability to freeze suspicious painkiller shipments.
His co-sponsor on the act was Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. Both their states have been ravaged by opioids.

Experts estimate the drugs could kill 500,000 Americans in the next decade. Deadly addiction to opioids - a class of drug covering everything from legal painkillers to heroin - has been described as America's biggest public health crisis since the spread of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s.

President Trump was pressed on Monday about the allegations surrounding his drug czar nominee that were detailed in an expose by the Washington Post and CBS News' 60 Minutes programme.

During a press conference at the White House, Mr Trump told reporters he took the journalistic investigation "very seriously".
"We're gonna be looking into Tom [Marino]," he told reporters from the Rose Garden.
"He's a great guy. I did see the report. We're gonna look into the report."

Mr Trump also said he would formally declare a national opioid emergency next week, as he pledged to do more than two months ago. Mr Marino and Ms Blackburn, both Republicans, helped force out an official at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who was taking on the drug firms, report the Post and 60 Minutes.

According to the investigation, they also introduced and lobbied for an "industry-friendly" bill called the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act.
A DEA whistleblower said the legislation made it harder for the agency to prevent distributors from shipping pills to rogue pharmacies and corrupt doctors around the US.
The so-called suspension orders - which the DEA slaps on suspicious shipments - have not been issued for at least two years, according to the report.


Blood on their hands? We're talking gallons here.


"Are there no prisons?"
"Plenty of prisons..."
"And the Union workhouses." demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"
"Both very busy, sir..."
"Those who are badly off must go there."
"Many can't go there; and many would rather die."
"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."



 

14 comments (Latest Comment: 10/17/2017 20:10:39 by Scoopster)
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