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Guest MINDSETTER™ Mundy: The Opioid Crisis & Our Veterans - We Must Do Better    

Thursday, December 24, 2015


Currently, we are facing an epidemic of epic proportions in Rhode Island. The opioid crisis is advancing itself to another stage. For many years. doctors prescribed pain pills for acute,  chronic illnesses, and injury. Big Pharma made billions, and many patients became hooked and need their daily dose. The typical RI knee-jerk reaction was to pass one of the most stringent prescribing laws in the US. Their goal is stop the Heroin-Fentanyl street drug epidemic.

I have a retired friend that have been on painkillers since the Vietnam War. In anticipation of the law, he has been successful in weening off the meds. He went from 6 Extra Strength Vicodin, to 4 to 3. It was arduous task. He was successful with that, he did his duty again like a Marine.

His price is, he lives in constant pain, anxiety depression, insomnia and has an unusual mood. He is so frustrated over the withholding of opiates, and this new program, it has forced him out of the VA. He is now using Walgreens, and the new RI law is now requiring him to visit a doctor each time he needs a prescription. He has to get a paper prescription, then go to pharmacy and wait to have it filled. He is restricted by law to have a prescription of no more than forty pills per 10 days, which he becomes "dope sick" frequently. He has mobility issues due to a severe leg injury.

I would like to note that his health information frequently shared by Rhode Island and many of the retailers would seems to be a HIPPA violation, in the eyes of Federal Law Enforcement.

He feels that he is at a cross-roads in his life. As a former infantry squad leader, which required him to assess all options to complete his mission with the least amount of personal damage. He has concluded that these are his options

1. Methadone which is an old process, that will also give him some relief, but that choice will be long term, and again he will have the physical necessity for the drug, his problem with pain, and an extra added expense. that will burden his limited income.

2. He said, "The Mexicans are really pushing the good dope, it is available all around Providence, and I can control when and where I want to get it. But, there are three dangerous options with that choice, jail, institution, or death.  This choice generally has a host of possible medical issues. Severe issues such as Hepatitis, kidney failure, circulatory issues, HIV and many other possible problem.

3. Suboxone, which is a very successful drug that has been used in Europe with astonishing results. This choice works, but, the insurance companies generally will not cover this treatment, and most providers demand payment at time of service. The drug is also not covered by insurance, and is very expensive.

Big Pharma is aware of money there is to be made so they want to keep an exclusive clientele, of people that will be able to afford this treatment. For someone that is going through opiate withdrawal, they will pay anything for exceptional treatment that works. Since 1996, Hydrocodone has consistently been in the top five prescribed drugs in this country. The government have put so many restrictions on prescribing  Suboxone, rehabilitation expenses and which facilities may prescribe it. It is not cost-effective for any patient with limited resources. The facilities do not take health insurance,their screening process is like an NSA interview and the pharmacies seem to be price fixing.

Usually, a patient is off the medication in a year, their result is remarkable. This option has the least relapse rate, and has cut down the heroin epidemic in several European countries. Portugal has decided to not punish addicts with jail time, but have required verdicts to enter into a Suboxone based opiate treatment facility. Thus far, the results have been incredible.

4. Narcotics Anonymous, 12 Step program. With opiates and the physical withdrawal aspect, this option is hard for many people to get past.  Which make people least willing to use this method. The 12 steps of the program gives to us this advice, and the program works, the success is often hindered in the physical process as I described in the aforementioned article.

An affirmation of these steps are in every major book of beliefs or stated by a higher power. These are an example of some of the NA steps.

Making Amends, and learning Humility :

Step 6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

Step 10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Battling the War on Drugs

In our country, the “War on Drugs” has created the largest prison population in the world. Incarceration has become a profitable business in the United States. The Private prison industry has profited very well.

Unfortunately, the underlying pain issue is ever so present, and legitimate patients are subjected to the same rules as people that abuse opiates. Many elderly patients forgo pain management, because of the requirements needed to be prescribe any pain medication. In this state which has over-taxed, and over spent us to death, we have some of the most brilliant recovery minds in the country. This problem can be fixed, so many lives are touched by this. We do not need an expensive public relations campaign to sell Suboxone treatment.

Perhaps, a minimal tax paid by Big Pharma could be utilized to create a solution to make Rhode Island successful in solving a worsening opioid overdose problem. Rhode Island’s Narcan solution for overdosing has been successful, and rather inexpensive. Narcan is the first step, treatment should be subsequent to that. Suboxone treatment works . Statistics show that most people that are administered Narcan relapse, and unless they have a Recovery Coach, stay back in a cycle of Opiate abuse. A life saved, or a person in recovery, is a worthwhile investment in human capital. Millions of people are in recovery currently, and are now productive tax-paying citizens, living with the disease of addiction


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Amount Paid: $88,840

Payments Exceeding $4,000 From: Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc and AbbVie Inc

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Doctor: Stephen Chabot

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Amount Paid: $94,892

Payments Exceeding $4,000 From: Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. Inc.

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Doctor: Damian Dupuy

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Amount Paid: $101,000

Payments Exceeding $4,000 From: Algeta US LLC and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc

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Doctor: Albert Marano

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Payments Exceeding $2,000 From: Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc and Biogen Idec Inc.

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Doctor: J Easton

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Amount Paid: $117,000

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Doctor: Paul Akerman

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Doctor: Anthony Mega

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Amount Paid: $133,000

Payments Exceeding $4,000 From: Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc

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Doctor: Russell Settipane

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Amount Paid: $133,000

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Amount Paid: $152,000

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Amount Paid: $172,000

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Amount Paid: $242,000

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Doctor: Michael Bradley

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Amount Paid: $261,000

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