Deaton & Case – ‘sea of despair’ revisited

Like a well worn script when we look back at the report of Deaton & Case we can see  precisely how it was strategized. A widespread opiod epidemic  is deflected from major US corporations  onto  the effect of equal opportunity and African Americans. Lets have poor Whites and poor Blacks have a fight. Our attention is turned away from the role of the pharmaceutical industry and medical profession to the effects of equal opportunity legislation.  In this case it appears that the wider availability of health care among White Americans accounts for the differential death rates. African Americans  had less health care coverage and so were not targetted for the consumption of opiods.

According to Deaton & Case the high death rate is all to do with despair and the economy. According to almost all medical authority it is all to do with over prescription of highly addictive drugs.(Note 1) Effectively more Americans are dyeing each year from opiod abuse than died in the entire Viet Nam war (Note 2).

US Health Dept states: ‘Opiod abuse is a serious public health issue. Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States.’  (Note 3) They then add: ‘From 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. 91 Americans die every day from an opiod overdose.’ (note 4)

Now the key difference with today’s opiod crisis is that the drugs often come in prescription form (Note 5).

Rather than be distracted by a so-called sea of despair and an attack on equal opportunities many state officials are turning their eyes on the source. According to The Atlantic:

‘Some attorneys general and advocates are now asking in court whether the pharmaceutical companies who marketed the drugs and downplayed their addictive nature can be held legally responsible for—and made to pay for the consequences of—the crisis’. (Note 6)

Death’s from prescription opiods were rare before 1990 – until the pharmaceutical industry began pushing the opiods through the medical professions. As The Washington Post explains:

‘The fact remains, however, that more than 183,000 people have died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids between 1999 and 2015, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.’  (Note 7)

 

It is something the American public should be grateful for  that their legislators were not taken in by Deaton & Case  diversion, are targetting the real issues and ignoring an unseemly attempt to pretend that the opiod crisis had anything to do with African Americans or equal opportunity. Opiod addiction shows no respect for class or ethnicity. It is disheartening to conclude that if African Americans had had better health care coverage they too would have shown up in these statistics in large numbers.

Notes

1. Mercola

According to Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids kill patients more frequently than any other medication used for nonfatal conditions.1 Back pain has been identified as one of the most common reasons for receiving a prescription for a narcotic pain reliever.2 Disturbingly, more than half of all opioid prescriptions in the U.S. are given to patients suffering from anxiety and other mental health disorders.

The reason why is unclear, although it’s possible that depressed and anxious patients experience a greater degree of physical pain as well. Whatever the reason, when you consider the addictive potential of these drugs and the fragile mental state of people already struggling with mental health problems, the harm of this trend could be phenomenal indeed.

Data also reveals that women are increasingly being prescribed opioids during pregnancy and after delivery, creating addicts in the womb and destroying families by creating drug-dependent mothers and infants.

According to a recent survey,3 more than 1 in 5 Americans insured by Blue Cross and Blue Shield were prescribed an opioid in 2015. At that rate, you’re virtually guaranteed to receive a prescription for a narcotic at some point, provided you’re seeing a doctor. Your chances of developing a drug dependency is high as well. Insurance claims involving opioid dependence rose by nearly 500 percent between 2010 and 2016, Blue Cross and Blue Shield reports.

……

According to preliminary data, drug overdoses (all kinds) killed between 59,000 and 65,000 Americans last year. Opioids, specifically, killed 33,000 in 2015.8,9,10 Opioids have also been identified as the primary gateway drug to heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, both of which add to the drug overdose burden.

As noted by Vox Magazine,11 the Vietnam War, in its entirety, claimed the lives of 58,000 American troops. Essentially, we’re suffering a death toll exceeding that of the Vietnam War each and every year now, courtesy of dangerous drugs, most of which are by prescription!

 

 

2. Vox

If nothing is done, we can expect a lot of people to die: A forecast by STAT concluded that as many as 650,000 people will die over the next 10 years from opioid overdoses — more than the entire city of Baltimore. The US risks losing the equivalent of a whole American city in just one decade.

That would be on top of all the death that America has already seen in the course of the ongoing opioid epidemic. In 2015, more than 52,000 people died of drug overdoses in America — about two-thirds of which were linked to opioids. The toll is on its way up, with an analysis of preliminary data from the New York Times finding that 59,000 to 65,000 likely died from drug overdoses in 2016.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/8/3/16079772/opioid-epidemic-drug-overdoses

 

3. HHS.gov

Opioid abuse is a serious public health issue. Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States.

https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic

4 HHS.gov

Drug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid.1  Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) quadrupled.2 From 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

We now know that overdoses from prescription opioids are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled,2 yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.3,4 Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled since 1999.5

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html

 

5. Mercola 2

Wen’s concerns are well placed. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),8 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on opioids in 2014.

On average, more than 1,000 of them land in emergency rooms every day as the result of abuse or misuse of prescription painkillers.

“There’s very little difference between oxycodone, morphine and heroin,” says Dr. Deeni Bassam, board-certified anesthesiologist, pain specialist and medical director of the Virginia-based Spine Care Center. “It’s just that one comes in a prescription bottle and another one comes in a plastic bag.”9

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/04/15/documentary-chasing-the-dragon-opioid-addiction.aspx

 

 

6. The Atlantic

Opioid abuse is rampant in states like Ohio, where paramedics are increasingly spending time responding to overdoses and where coroners’ offices are running out of room to store bodies. In 2012, there were 793 million doses of opioids prescribed in the state, enough to supply every man, woman, and child, with 68 pills each. Roughly 20 percent of the state’s population was prescribed an opioid in 2016. And Ohio leads the nation in overdose deaths.

Who is responsible for this? Some attorneys general and advocates are now asking in court whether the pharmaceutical companies who marketed the drugs and downplayed their addictive nature can be held legally responsible for—and made to pay for the consequences of—the crisis

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/06/lawsuit-pharmaceutical-companies-opioids/529020/

 

7. Washington Post

 

OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit against five leading opioid painkiller manufacturers May 31, accusing them of misleadingly minimizing the real addiction risks associated with the powerful pills, thus triggering the nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction and death. Mr. DeWine brought his case in an Ohio state court, choosing as his venue the courthouse in Chillicothe, a small city whose struggle with the addiction crisis was the subject of a heartbreaking report by The Post’s Joel Achenbach.

The fact remains, however, that more than 183,000 people have died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids between 1999 and 2015, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Such deaths were rare prior to the 1990s, when prescription opioids became commonly prescribed for non-cancer pain — at the urging of the pharmaceutical industry’s marketing teams. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ohio-is-right-to-sue-opioid-manufacturers/2017/06/05/24a3d928-47c4-11e7-bcde-624ad94170ab_story.html?utm_term=.64f6b7d06880