The Tyee has published my article Big Pharma Created the Opioid Epidemic; We Can Stop It. Click or tap through for the full article and many links. Excerpt:
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that, for many kinds of chronic pain, the kind that doctors prescribe opioids for, over-the-counter painkillers work just as well if not better.
A year-long randomized trial involved 240 patients suffering severe chronic back pain or hip or knee osteoarthritis pain. One group received immediate-release morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone/acetaminophen. The other group got acetaminophen or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. Those taking non-opioids saw a clear improvement in pain intensity and suffered only half the medication-related symptoms of the opioid takers.
In other words, some simple over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol and ibuprofen were better for such chronic pain than expensive and addictive opioids. The JAMA report said nothing about other kinds of chronic pain, but that’s beside the point. Since 1995, a privately held corporation, Purdue Pharma, has made billions of dollars manufacturing and promoting varieties of oxycodone with a slow-release formula that was originally touted as preventing addiction.
A long article in The New Yorker last year describes how the Sackler family tweaked the formula of oxycodone (first made in Germany a century ago) and turned it into OxyContin. Skilled marketers, the Sacklers pitched doctors on OxyContin’s merits, rewarded their top salespeople, and kept close track of “whales” - doctors who were writing huge numbers of OxyContin prescriptions. Those doctors received handsome bonuses.