Inside a Massive, Successful Effort to Stop Prescribing So Many Opioids

–First came the headlines in August that 64,000 Americans had died of overdoses in 2016–


425-20170731-painkillers-630Matt Chase

One medical group has figured out a way to sidestep the dangerously addictive drugs.

In 2013, leaders at Partnership HealthPlan, the main public insurance provider for Medi-Cal patients in rural Northern California, discovered an alarming trend: Many counties where Partnership operated had among the highest rates of opioid prescribing and overdose in the state. Hydro­codone was the top-prescribed medication among Partnership patients, who include more than 570,000 Medi-Cal recipients from the vineyards of Sonoma County to the redwoods on the Oregon border. In Lake County, a poor, rural area bordering Sonoma, enough opioid painkillers were prescribed in 2013 to medicate every man, woman, and child with opioids for five months, according to the California Health Care Foundation.

“If people were needing more, you just prescribed more,” said Dr. Marshall Kubota, a regional medical director for the provider. “That was a recipe for disaster.”

Opioids, a highly addictive class of compounds that includes OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin, are a uniquely American form of pain treatment: In 2014, the United States consumed nearly 70 percent of the world’s supply. As prescriptions have soared since 1996, when Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin, opioid addiction and overdose rates have outpaced the trend. Yet chronic pain levels have increased, according to a recent study in the medical journal Pain—and many people who started on painkillers have transitioned to other illicit, stronger opioids like heroin or fentanyl. As a result, drug overdoses, most involving opioids, KILL more than 1,000 Americans EACH WEEK on average—more than HIV did at its peak in the mid-90s.




Inside A Massive…

We’re Undercounting Opioid Overdoses…

4 thoughts on “Inside a Massive, Successful Effort to Stop Prescribing So Many Opioids

  1. I know there is a overdose problem with medications, but on pain medications we have to be very careful how we address the issue. You see there is another side to it. Let’s use me and my situation. Due to severe physical problems with my bone , muscle , and nervous systems. Simply put my bones are growing wrong and dying, and my muscles are trying to compensate and have been compromised. This causes me a chronic pain issue making it hard to function and in fact even get through a day. One of the medications that help me are different acting morphines and muscle relaxers. The problem becomes that the non-medical trained legislators in the state I live have been convinced that medications such as I need are unnecessary and are the problem of the drug overdoses. The state legislators have restricted access to and the ability of my doctors to prescribe medications that work best for me, due to the meddling of the state government. Due to this situation I am forced to use more medications that do not work as well to help manage the problems I have. Again there is an issue to fix, but let’s not paint all with a broad brush. Let’s not let non medical people act as if they are well studied doctors. Thank you. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Scottie,
      The government is known for wesring blinders when the words human and suffering are in the report. You’re right, there will always be two sides to every story. Sometimes there’s three or four.
      Oxy was developed in the U.S. with a known defect. The extended time release period was faulty. The extended time release was the selling point because of it’s strength. The defect didn’t go public before distribution.
      All legal issues aside, we are responsible for the death of our children. This country didn’t fight hard enough to end this sooner. It was easier to turn away and place the socialy acceptable blame on addiction. Good money was thrown into an already broken system.
      I’m sorry for your pain, I really am. You are suffering because of a deadly mistake and a cover up.
      Tell people to STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The problem is partly also terminology. Morphine is one of the most researched drugs in the world with very well known effects on the body. However some people call it oxycontin. One of my doctors does that also. However I do understand the need to police the problematic overuse of pain relieving pills for recreational use. I just don’t want the baby thrown out with the bathwater. I don’t like overreactions. The addition to the problem is when people are cut off from much needed pain relief by draconian restrictive laws they will turn to other substances to get relief. Such as the new surge in users of heroin. Also alcohol. Pain is something people will do almost anything to alleviate if it is at a high enough level. I don’t have the answers I admit. I just think the reactions of congress and local state legislatures has made things worse for those who need the medications while not really solving the problem. Be well. Hugs


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