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Apr-05-2016 20:36printcomments

Why is the death toll from prescription opioids and heroin raging out of control?

Addictions and deaths expected to continue increasing in the coming years.

heroin opioid deaths

(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - In the fourteen years since I began exposing the criminal activity of the FDA, pharma, pain foundations and physicians funded by pharma, U.S. Senators profiting from pharma, as well as pill mill doctors, I have become more and more frustrated.

A few weeks ago, I received a message telling me in no uncertain terms to "back off" and stick to "advocacy".

First, I don't back down to anyone and I don't advocate. This country is drowning in advocates as this epidemic claims a generation of our young people -- I put out facts and hope people will educate themselves on why this epidemic will only worsen.

Here are some examples of why addictions and deaths will increase rather than decrease in the coming years:

Robert M. Califf, MD was recently appointed Commissioner of the FDA. Califf worked very closely with pharmaceutical companies at the Duke University clinical trials center "convincing them to do large, expensive, and, for Duke, profitable clinical trials."

He was a paid consultant for Merck Sharp & Dohme, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, and Eli Lilly per ProPublica from 2009 to 2013. Forbes Magazine wrote that Califf's close ties to the drug industry were the reason for him not being nominated for the FDA Commissioner position in 2009.

The FDA approved OxyContin for children using the maker of the killer drug, Purdue Pharma's own research studies. They did not find it necessary to conduct their own studies.

With the tens of thousands of addictions and deaths throughout the U.S. was there any outrage at OxyContin being approved for children? No -- so now we can wait for children to become statistics in addiction and death.

Our elected officials - especially serving in the U.S. Senate, the FDA, pharma and the medical profession have failed the American people in addressing this epidemic while profiting financially.

As long as there are backroom deals being conducted with our elected senators and countless task force meetings conveyed, I will be outraged. Why? Because I have had enough of the task force meetings to discuss the prescription opioid/heroin epidemic in every state with no treatment of the disease of addiction implemented.

Pain foundations funded by pharma are petitioning President Obama for "a piece" of the $1 billion he allocated to address the prescription opioid/heroin epidemic. (I will be writing about what Obama's $1 billion plan in tackling this epidemic of death is missing in the coming weeks).

The pain foundations claim pain patients throughout the country suffer with "stigma" by not receiving enough opioids for their chronic pain.

We lead the world in the production of prescription opioids. There is no shortage of opioids and many of the chronic pain patients taking dangerous opioids long-term are addicts. These same pain foundations are also highlighting "pediatric warriors" who are the unsung heroes of chronic pain.

Recently an emergency room physician in New Mexico, Frank Huyler, MD wrote an article for the New York Daily news entitled "United States of Chronic Pain: How a shift in health-care delivery and Big Pharma's hunger for profits have driven the opioid epidemic."

Dr. Huyler nails it. One of his references to the epidemic was especially powerful. It read "And so we've come to this: an original good intention -- the relief of pain -- seized upon by special interests. The pharmaceutical industry, physicians and other prescribers, hospitals, and the FDA are all to blame." Here is a link to Dr Huyler's article:

Pill mill doctors some responsible for up to 100 deaths in their pain clinic and U.S. Attorneys not pursuing charges against these unscrupulous physicians have literally gotten away with murder as they either continue their medical practice or re-invent themselves into research studies utilizing opioids for multi-purposes other than chronic pain.

Rehab facilities are taking exorbitant amounts of money from families and not being licensed to provide care. The state of Florida is leading the country in this money making venture.

If addiction is considered a disease as cancer is considered a disease, why are cancer and addiction treated so differently?

Cancer patient receive state of the art medical treatment. Those addicted to prescription opioids/heroin are treated with individuals classified as "recovery specialists" or "parent coaches" -- many taking on-line courses to attain their "credentials." Are cancer patients treated for their disease with recovery specialists or parent coaches?

I have put together a group of attorneys who I will be consulting with when I see outrage is replaced with apathy -- when endless task force meetings are held without a plan for treatment -- when pill mill doctors destroy lives by over-prescribing dangerous opioids -- when the FDA continues their corrupt approvals of dangerous drugs and appointments to the FDA are made by those with blatant conflicts of interests -- and when our kids are sent to rehab facilities that are nothing more than hovels providing no treatment for the disease of addiction.

I have lost my patience with the prescription opioid/heroin epidemic destroying lives in record numbers every day -- and no I will not back down because I do not advocate.

What I am doing though is calling in the cavalry -- the legal profession:

Lloyd M. Cueto
Attorney at Law
7110 West Main Street
Belleville, Il. 62223

Richard J. Hollawell
Partner, Console & Hollawell PC.
525 Rte 73 N #117
Marlton, NJ 08053

Phillip W McCallum
McCallum, Methvin & Terrell, P.C.
2201 Arlington Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35205

Eric Nielson
Attorney at Law
4790 S Holladay Blvd.
Salt Lake City, UT 84117

David H. Popper
South Milhausen
Gateway Center
1000 Legion Place
Suite 1200
Orlando, Fla 32801

Raymond Wagner
Attorney at Law
1869 Upper Water St
PO Box 756
Halifax, B3J-2V2
Nova Scotia, Canada

Larry Wall
Attorney at Law
Wall Huntington Law Firm
2024 North Woodlawn, Suite 406
Wichita, KS 67208

Additional sources:

  • Hedegaard MD MSPH, Chen MS PhD, Warner PhD. Drug-Poisoning Deaths Involving Heroin: United States, 2000-2013. National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief. 2015:190:1-8.
  • Cicero TJ, Ellis MS, Surratt HL, Kurtz SP. The changing face of heroin use in the United States: a retrospective analysis of the past 50 years. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(7):821-826.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse


Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Hilary April 23, 2016 10:28 pm (Pacific time)

Bonnie, I came across your article while doing research for a paper I am writing about opiates and public policy. I am a few weeks from graduating with my master's in social work but my biggest accomplishment is that I will be celebrating 3 years of sobriety (God willing) at the beginning of May. To be honest, what touched me was the grace with which you responded to an upset friend."..those who ate dying are TOTAL BEAIN-DEAD ADDICTS WHO ABUSE THEM INTENTIONALLY and sadly die.." I assume he meant to say "BRAIN DEAD ADDICTS". As someone who has lived through addiction and lives in recovery this made me mad and sad. I have watched people try to get clean...really try and lose the battle. It is heartbreaking, as you know, and I am now making it a career to do everything I can to help as many touched by this disease as possible. I thank you for your gentle response, for it reminded me to keep a kind heart. Thank you for what you do.

Joe Klassen April 5, 2016 10:42 pm (Pacific time)

Bonnie, you know me and how I broke my back 10 years ago and have had 5 back surgeries since...I'm currently on a wonderful pain management schedual of 112 oxycodone and 112 vicodin,per month taken in tandem...not all of us who take them (opiate pain relievers are addicts...without them I'm basically homebound with very little activity...and with them, I can physically be a bit more mobile...those who ate dying are TOTAL BEAIN-DEAD ADDICTS WHO ABUSE THEM INTENTIONALLY and sadly is 100% preventable, but to have someone call us all addicts is a stigma I hate and know in my heart is wrong...just like the bullshit that pot is not a drug (and the claim it is "medicine" my pain pills are what get me through my days...why don't you print a story that pot really is a serious drug as well??...this article and stigma I sometimes face ate one and the same...why shouldn't opiates become as legal (non-prescription) as pot is now??...yes, loser dope addicts deserve what they get...but WHY SHOULD I BE EMBARRASSED AND HAVE A STIGMA AS A DRUG ADDICT WHILE POT IS OK??.. I MAY HAVE TO UNSUBSCRIBE TO YOUR PAGE, (WHICH WOULD BE SADDENING BECAUSE i LOVE YOUR ARTICLES, AS WELL AS BEING A PERSONAL FRIEND...why advocate (which I support, but do not partake) pot use for pain, but slam my medication at the same time as you touting all the good of pot, when the opiates are my meds??'s a double standard and personally hurts my feelings as well...PLEASE DON'T PRINT THESE ARTICLES SAYING YOUR MEDICINE AS GOOD, WHILE SLAMMING MINE...NO OVERDOSE IS ON ACCIDENT...JOE KLASSEN, YOUR LONGTIME FRIEND

BONNIE: Joe, I hear you. You can imagine, I have personal opinions that do not match many articles that we publish, but I still make the information available so readers can use the resource to make informed decisions.  I hope.  In this case, I know very well that many, many people use pain killers exactly as intended- to end the pain. I don't want you or anyone else to go without their medicine! The medical industry everywhere needs to be responsible in creating dependencies that could have been avoided, and people need to be educated regarding how easily addiction can happen. Have you seen our article on Alcohol? It's changed people's lives! (check out the comments too:  Comparing cannabis to opiates just doesn't jive for me though, I think that's like comparing apples and elephants. :)  I respect your choices, and your needs, and certainly do not want to portray otherwise.  Thanks for laying it out for me. Take care, my friend! Bonnie 

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.