Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pill Outbreak

Southern Ohio is in the midst of a public health emergency. There is a serious outbreak of pills in the area.

Nearly one in 10 babies were born addicted to drugs last year in southern Ohio's Scioto County. Rehab admissions for prescription painkiller addictions were five times the national average. In a rare step, the health commissioner declared a public health emergency, something usually reserved for disease outbreaks.

The culprits putting the rural county at the forefront of a burgeoning national problem are not only the people abusing the painkillers, officials say. They blame at least eight area "pill mills" — clinics or doctors that dole out prescription medications like OxyContin with little discretion. At least two health care providers are facing criminal charges.

"I would describe it as if a pharmaceutical atomic bomb went off," said Lisa Roberts, a nurse for the health department in Portsmouth, an Ohio River city of about 20,000 with falling population and high unemployment.

Health officials say nine of every 10 fatal drug overdoses in Scioto (pronounced sy-OH'-toh) County are caused by prescription drugs. Of those drug deaths, nearly two-thirds of the individuals did not have prescriptions, meaning they bought the drugs illegally or got them from friends or family.
Obviously since 2/3rds did not get their medications legally the "pill mills" are at fault.

There are other "pill mills" around the country that are getting attention.
By publicly defending Stephen and Linda Schneider, a Kansas doctor and nurse accused of running a “pill mill,” pain treatment activist Siobhan Reynolds irked the prosecutor assigned to the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway was so annoyed that in April 2008 she sought a court order telling Reynolds to shut up. Concluding that such an order would be an unconstitutional prior restraint of speech, U.S. District Judge Monti Belot said no.

But by the time Belot sentenced the Schneiders last month, he was so irritated by Reynolds’ advocacy on behalf of the couple that he could not contain himself. He said he hoped the harsh sentences—three decades each—would “curtail or stop the activities of the Bozo the Clown outfit known as the Pain [Relief] Network, a ship of fools if there ever was one.”

Reynolds, who founded the Pain Relief Network (PRN) in 2003 to highlight the chilling effect of drug law enforcement on the practice of medicine, evidently has a talent for getting under the skin of people in power. But that is not a crime. By treating it as such, Treadway has used grand jury secrecy to cloak an unconstitutional vendetta.
The previous link leads to the PRN in case you want to learn more.

Of course I have written about the war on pain patients before. Just another advantage of having a war on pain relievers. What is the new motto in American jurisprudence? "Better 10,000 in pain than one additional drug abuser." You have to look at this in a positive light though.If you are in pain there is a thriving black market if you can afford it.

Here is a book that addresses current policy:

Pain Control and Drug Policy: A Time for Change

Here are some short reviews:
"A captivating and a powerfully expressed condemnation of the mindless folly of drug policy. Its great strength is the clarity of thought and power of expression." Paul O'Mahony Ph.D., Criminologist, Trinity College, Dublin.
--Book Review

"A dispassionate and multifaceted analysis of the harmful effects of drug policy in the US and abroad [that calls for] re-legalizing all illicit drugs." Jeffrey A. Miron, Ph.D., Harvard University, Cambridge, MA --Book Review

"Faguet's book is the latest classic in a growing literature on the divisive and counterproductive nature of drug wars. In passionate terms, he describes the history and development of current legislation and reveals that, far from protecting society, current drug policy undermines the fragile social, political, and legal infrastructures of producer countries and penalizes millions of petty offenders and pain sufferers in consumer countries. Strongly argued and uncompromising, this is essential reading for anyone with an open-mind, and an interest in drugs and drug legislation." --John B.Davies BA., Ph.D., C.Psychol., FBPsS., FRSM, Professor of Psychology, Director, Centre for Applied Social Psychology, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland
I have to agree with the reviews. A well working prohibition (yeah a logical prohibition - a novel idea) should keep drugs from those who supposedly don't need them and get them (through legal markets) to people who do. Instead our policies insure pretty much the opposite. Not to mention that for 30 years it has been considerably easier for kids to get an illegal drug than to get a legal beer according to government surveys. What is the point of that?

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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