Contribute Try STAT+ Today

During the recent Interim Meeting of the American Medical Association, the organization’s president, Dr. Barbara McAneny, told the story of a patient of hers whose pharmacist refused to fill his prescription for an opioid medication. She had prescribed the medication to ease her patient’s severe pain from prostate cancer, which had spread to his bones. Feeling ashamed after the pharmacist called him a “drug seeker,” he went home, hoping to endure his pain. Three days later, he tried to kill himself. Fortunately, McAneny’s patient was discovered by family members and survived.

This story has become all too familiar to patients who legitimately use opioid medication for pain.

Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published its guideline for prescribing opioids for chronic pain in March 2016, pain patients have experienced increasing difficulty getting needed opioid medication due to denials by pharmacists and insurance providers.

advertisement

More troubling are recent press reports, blog posts, and journal articles that describe patients being refused necessary medication or those dismissed by their treating physicians, who practice in fear of regulatory reprisal. At the interim meeting, the AMA responded to these developments, passing several resolutions against the rash of laws and mandatory policies that limit or prevent patient access to opioid painkillers.

The CDC designed its guideline as non-mandatory guidance for primary care physicians. But legislators, pharmacy chains, insurers, and others have seized on certain parts of its dosage and supply recommendations and translated them into blanket limits in law and mandatory policy. Today, in more than half of U.S. states, patients in acute pain from surgery or an injury may not by law fill an opioid prescription for more than three to seven days, regardless of the severity of their surgery or injury.

advertisement

Although many of these laws exempt patients with chronic or cancer pain, in practice they often affect those with long-term pain, like McAneny’s patient. Some insurance companies and major pharmacy chains, like Walmart, Express Scripts, and CVS, also have mandatory restrictions on the opioid prescriptions they will fill. In addition to imposing supply limits, insurers and pharmacies are increasingly using the CDC’s dosage guidance (the equivalent of 50 to 90 milligrams of morphine a day) as the basis for delaying or denying refills for long-term pain patients, even though the CDC guidance is intended to apply only to patients who have not taken opioids before.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and some state medical boards are also using this dosage guidance in ways that were never intended, such as a proxy or red flag to identify physician “over-prescribers” without considering the medical conditions or needs of these physicians’ patients. As a result, some physicians who specialize in pain management are leaving their practices, while others are tapering their patients off of opioids, solely out of fear of losing their licenses or criminal charges.

The laudable goal of these laws and policies is to stem the tide of unprecedented overdose deaths and addiction in the U.S. But here are three interesting facts: Opioid prescribing is currently at an 18-year low. The rate of prescribing opioids has dropped every year since 2011. Yet drug overdose deaths have skyrocketed since then.

Recent data from the CDC suggests that illegally manufactured fentanyl, its analogs, and heroin are responsible for well over half of all overdose deaths. Stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamines are responsible for another third. Deaths related to prescription opioids come next in line, although many of those who died were not the intended recipient of the prescribed medication. In addition, most deaths involve multiple substances that are used in combination, often including alcohol.

The vast majority of people who report misusing prescription opioids did not get them from a doctor under medical supervision, and as many as 70 percent reported prior use of substances like cocaine and methamphetamines.

Conflating the misuse of opioids with their legitimate medical use, and treating all opioids — illegal or prescription — alike is stigmatizing patients for whom opioid painkillers are necessary and medically appropriate.

There’s no question that taking opioid medications carries risks: The CDC places the risk of addiction with the long-term use of opioids at 0.07-6 percent. The risk of addiction justifies judicious prescribing, trying other forms of treatment before prescribing opioids, and carefully screening patients for a history of addiction and mental health issues when opioids are being considered.

But most patients who use opioid medication for pain do not become addicted, although they may develop physical dependence. Addiction is the compulsive use of a substance despite adverse consequences. Appropriate medical use is just the opposite, use on a set schedule as prescribed with benefits to health and function.

Nearly 18 million Americans currently take opioids long-term to manage pain; many of them have complex medical conditions. When appropriately prescribed opioids are denied, patients whose pain has been well-managed by them may experience medical decline, lose the ability to work and function, and resort to suicide. Denying opioids to patients who have relied on them — sometimes for years — may cause some to turn to street drugs, thereby increasing their risk of overdose.

Dr. Terri Lewis, a researcher and rehabilitation specialist, recently conducted a nationwide survey of 3,000 pain patients. More than half of those surveyed (56 percent) reported disruptions in care or outright abandonment by their physicians. Among those reporting disruption or abandonment, many experienced adverse health consequences (55 percent) as well as hopelessness or thinking about suicide (62 percent) as a result. In other surveys, physicians said that they were prescribing fewer opioids or ceasing treatment of pain patients altogether because of regulatory scrutiny, even in cases where they believed that doing so would harm their patients.

The CDC guideline and its progeny of laws and policies have created chaos and confusion in the medical community. Some physicians are telling their patients that changes in the law are the reason they are tapering them to a preset dosage of opioids or off of opioids altogether. Yet the specific dosage thresholds in the CDC guideline were never intended to apply to patients currently taking opioids. Indeed, nothing in the current legal or regulatory environment justifies forcibly tapering a patient off of opioids who is doing well, and there is no solid evidence to support such a practice.

Some physicians are also using the CDC’s dosage thresholds, or simply their patients’ use of opioids, as a reason for abandoning them. Abandoning pain patients out of fear of regulatory reprisal may violate a physician’s ethical duty to place a patient’s welfare above his or her own self-interest. If serious harm results from abandoning a patient’s care, it may also serve as a basis for discipline or malpractice claims. In addition, physicians and pharmacies have responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act not to discriminate on the basis of a patient’s condition, including chronic pain, or a perceived condition, as when a person with pain is erroneously regarded as a person with opioid use disorder or addiction when there is no clinical basis for that perception.

The AMA’s recent resolutions formally push back against what the AMA calls the misapplication of the CDC’s guideline by regulatory bodies, legislators, pharmacists and pharmacy benefit managers, insurers, and others. The resolutions underscore that dosage guidance is just that — guidance — and that doses higher than those recommended by the CDC may be necessary and appropriate for some patients.

The AMA also took issue with the recent practices of regulatory bodies that subject physicians to oversight and potential sanction solely because of the opioid dosages they prescribe. Medicine involves treating patients individually, and weighing the specific risks and benefits of treatment in each case. Taking this capacity away from physicians hamstrings their ability to treat their patients — as does requiring them to practice in an environment of fear.

Epidemics instill fear, but physicians have a responsibility to rise above fear and advance the interests of their patients. The AMA’s action in advocating for patients and for the right of physicians to practice individualized care is an important effort in beginning to rebalance the scales in the joint goals of reducing pain and opioid addiction.

Kate M. Nicholson, J.D., is a civil rights and health policy attorney who served for 20 years in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where she drafted the current regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and managed litigation nationwide. Diane E. Hoffmann, J.D., is a professor of health law at the University of Maryland School of Law, director of its Law & Health Care Program. Chad D. Kollas, M.D., chairs the American Medical Association’s Pain and Palliative Medicine Specialty Section Council and is the medical director in palliative and supportive care at the Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center.

  • JD Hi I have been through what you are going through I am sorry because I know you are not playing games like our doctors do. I’ve gone through this detoxing 4 times and let me tell you are sick. A nurse practioner said to me it will make you very sick but it won’t kill you laughing as she said it. This woman just got out of school. I am so glad that she thought this is a joke of some kind. I was so upset that she didn’t care and refused to go back to her. I had no choice to go back to her then she accused me of lying to her no I don’t do that.Then she hands me off to a real doctor who screamed and yell and told me to suffer. This is the latest new medical profession we have. You know the only way of getting help is being your own advocate because no one listens to you. I have a doctor who now helps me but is also restricted as to what he can do. If you can get some help at all go for it. I am 62 last year I was told by a representative of my city I have no rights and no lawyer will take my case ok This is what is called America. Sorry I don’t find any of this funny. You must put your faith in Jesus and God I do and He gets me through. Nothing is easy but if you have Him as a friend you have a best friend. I am so sorry I was hoping to get help from here but not much but support is giving here. I wish you best take care and fight!!!!! for you

  • I would tend to think most of us pain patients know this situation already and we are now wondering what to do about it before it becomes too late for even more of us. The suicide rate is climbing and all we get are ignored by pain doctors, specialists and the like. I have fought with multiple doctors and pharmacists over the years and I am out of options. I would appreciate any insight or possibly even finding a way to get a lawsuit going since being grouped into “drug seekers”, “addicts”, “liars”, and finally either being tossed out or getting a forced taper.

  • Good news to chemo patients:

    “Drug sponge could minimize side effects of cancer treatment.
    Absorbent polymer sops up chemotherapy drugs from bloodstream after treatment.”

    For all the researchers this could be a good research to compare this new chemofilter device or drug to Acupuncture. Which one will benefits patients the most if any.

    We may be for a surprise.

    If you think Acupuncture is quackery, this is the way to prove or disprove it once for all. No biases. Two devices to compare, wow, can’t wait to see who will do it first.

    Add sham acupuncture( by the way sham acu is also acupuncture. Acu can be internal or external)

  • I’ve never asked for or have been prescribed opioids even as chronic as my pain has been for me. I have stenosis in my neck and lower spine, Harrington rods, bulging disc, sciatica and nerve aggravation in my feet and left hand. I have chronic arthritis attacking me everywhere in my body. It’s getting to the point in my life where my future looks bleek because the VA is heavily restricting pain meds. I’ve even asked for a small supply just to deal with the flare ups to no avail. I ended up taking so much naproxen that I started vomiting blood…. for a few days though I could tolerate the pain. I’m now asking for an accommodation to work from home all the time and I’m trying to get my affairs in order in case I don’t make it to retirement or can no longer deal with the restrictions of not getting out so that I can enjoy my life. My last X-ray said that my condition has substantially progressed since the one taking two years ago. Yesterday I sat up and thought if I can’t move around to do simple chores then what’s the point and became deeply depressed thinking about what’s to come.

  • Hi I’m Joni I was a pain patient for 9 years. During that time I was able to work, spend time with friends and family, and was able to handle my own life. In 2016 my pain specialist retired from his practice and referred me to another office, however the medical center I was referred to did not under any circumstances perscribe any of the medication I had been on for so long. So as it happened I had to completely and alone withdraw from all the meds I was on. Wanting to die and considering it my son took me to the methadone clinic in our town. Thank God for the clinic they saved my life. And how rediculous is a government that can decide what is best for pain treatment by individuals who have no chronic pain. Here’s a thought get ur asses out of ur office and talk to real pain patients the medical field and the people put in charge of changing these rules without a clue as to the disaster of chronic pain almost killed me. I don’t understand in what human mind is this acceptable. Now a 2years later I don’t work I don’t stay on my feet more than 18min at a time I have no quality of life now. Thanks again for choosing how my Dr should be allowed to care for me. I’ve got 3 grandkids that I spend only moments with because I’m in to much pain all the time. I hope one day whoever created this change realizes that pain patient and opioid dependence do go hand in hand but that doesn’t mean we are a lower quality of human. Chronic pain is a very serious issue for anyone suffering with it. I hope with all my heart and soul that others have a family member who will keep them alive long enough to get some type of help. The world has let a huge number of good people down. I honestly hope that someone can advocate for the pain patients that are still struggling to live day to day and that we as a society remedy this situation ASAP.

    • Sorry to hear your going through that kind of misery. Too many stories like yours. Really a damn shame that those knuckleheads that are, and have been abusing opioids are making it all bad for genuine chronic pain patients. They don’t even care about all the problems they are creating for so many suffering people. It all just infuriates me.

  • I’ve expressed that many times here. I have experienced that firsthand. Continuous times I have had to resort to Disability. Consequently, resorting to government assisted insurance. One of those guidelines is to be on the lookout for patients with government assistance insurance. Apparently that raises flags. Another guideline Is to be is To initially have a plan on how this medications must be weaned off rather than cold turkey it. And explains the possible consequences for not winning offer a patient properly.
    My pain management doctor chose to only Considerer the government assisted patients.

    He had no problem taking pain killers right away. I did bring to his attention I did bring to his attention That I was aware aware of that we ne that I was aware aware of the weaning me of The weaning off the patient slowly. “The are just guidelines “

    Luckily, unfortunate or whatever Explanation there maybe I do not go through opiate withdrawals. I cannot imagine pain and withdrawals at the same time. Pain and inadequate the doctors today toll on my health as well as my social life.
    Note that My average visit With the doctor did not go over 5 minutes and for questions. This was enough for the doctor to determine that there was Nothing wrong nothing wrong with me and immediately sentenced time and time again. No matter that I had MRIs and EMG results. Bulged disc in my L5 and abnormal conductivity on EMG report.
    No matter who my primary care physician was at the time I would always get refer back to the same careless doctor. I void not believe that he would be the only pain management doctor in orange county California California.
    Recently, I reached out to My insurance company and ask if indeed he was the only do my insurance company and ask if indeed he was the only doctor around.

    I Express to them that enough was enough and if indeed I would be preferred to the same doctor, that I was ready to have a little dance with him.
    After nine long painful years, my new and last doctor, proposed fascia pain syndrome. This makes total sense!!! Initially I thought my new doctor was crazy telling me that my pain would go away in about two months. I cannot fathom that I would be in a better state in such a short period of time.
    Recently I confess to my doctor that I did not initially believed his statement. recently I confess to my doctor that I did not initially believed his statement.

    After two months of trying your point manipulation, psychological help and asked us to pain medications as needed.Note that my camp sunshine has gone down 75% think your floo note that my camp sunshine has gone down 75% than usually I am pain is contained about 80%.

    They focus so much on the select worry it’s opiates, approached it in the non-logical way that has affected many of us. No back up pain no back plan, alternatives nothing!!!
    I will share with you that my deadline to be pain-free wash three hours 26 minutes away. I was not going through th I will share with you that my deadline to be pain-free wash three hours 26 minutes away. I was not going experience more pain. Fortunately, I found this doctor I don’t know a better time. I am looking forward to regaining my life.

  • There seems to be a big push on to almost force pain patients over to using med. marijuana and cbd oil products that do not help many chronic pain sufferers, including myself. Opioid products have worked fine for many of us who do not abuse them and also have exhausted other methods. Mr./ ms. Trust, persons such as yourself, joseph and john who have commented here are adding to the harm that is coming to chronic pain patients. It is clear that your arguments do not stand up at all against someone such as
    Mr. Lawhern, PhD. I hope to see the day come that the many people that have caused pain patients to suffer and die would have to answer for their words and actions and be held accountable.

  • Lawhern, PhD

    Bravo! You almost got me until you show you true self at the end of your sentences. You stated,

    “We literally don’t know with any consistency if the alternatives work any better than placebo — yet their advocates and proponents claim such measures should replace access to opioids. This over-hyping of experimental and unproven therapies is not helpful or evidence-based. At worst, it can represent medical quackery for profit.”

    I never say opioids do not work. I mentioned they should not be the first line of care due to their side effects. Opioids are for critical care.

    All your research should be questioned because of your biases. You have disgrace all your research and anyone who partakes in them. Your research are overblown.

    • T Trust — I repeat my earlier request: since you have asked for my qualifications as a writer and patient advocate, it is only fair that you disclose your own qualifications as a critic. Likewise, while opioids are widely used in pain control, it is quite rare that they are the therapy of first choice. I think you construct a strawman argument here, for the sake of simple contention and distraction.

      If you can’t argue from the evidence, then kindly withdraw from the discussion. You’re not convincing anybody by sniping from the shadows.

    • To T-Trust,,,1st lets start w/truth ok??It is factually impossible for anyone to physically feel the physical pain of another..literally impossible..Thus,,why would anyone think they have the right to decide for all of mankind,how much FORCED PHYSICAL PAIN FROM A MEDICAL CONDITION ANOTHER HUMAN SHOULD FORCIBLE ENDURE,VIA DENIAL OF ACCESS TO EFFECTIVE MEDICINES TO LESSEN THAT PHYSICAL PAIN FROM THAT MEDICAL CONDITION PER INDIVIDUAL PATIENT??WHY?? would anyone think they have that right??to deny a living humanbeing in physical pain,to deny them effective pain relief,when their medical condition is causing them physical pain??If u can’t feel their physical pain,how do u know how much their hurting?
      The universal definition of torture is,”Denial of access to effective medical care to effectively lessen physical pain,,,Soo why does anyone think they have the right to torture another living humanbeing?
      If u are not aware yet,,all 4 human rights organization have condemn they actions of our government,any,doctors etc ,they have condemn the action of forced endurement of physical pain via force tapering ,denial of access,to effective medicines,ie opiates, to effective lessen physical pain.Those 4 organization are,Human Right Watch ,The U.N,,The UNHRHC,,AND THEE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS,,,, not to mention torture is against every treaty signed by 167 nations,,from 1947 up to 2018,,,Torture in the healthcare setting is not acceptable to all,,,but some doctors,medical personnel who believe they have this right to decide who gets tortured today by denial of effective medicines to lessen their physical pain from a medical condition.HRW just called out the cdc guidelines as being severely harmful to all who need the MEDICINE opiates to lessen their physical pain from physical medical conditions,,Are all 4 human rights organization also wrong Mr.Trust??
      The big truth u r refusing to see is,,it is impossible for u or anyone to physically feel the physical pain of another,,thus as a humane advanced civilization,torturing them by denial of access to those medicines is not acceptable in a humane civilized country.They have brought medicine back to the dark ages,1880’s,,
      The fact that our government had secret meeting w/insurance companies proves beyond a reasonable doubt,,,this was about $$$$$$,,,and medicare,,Medicaid,all insurers not wanting to pay for chronic conditions ,since most chronic condition are PRE-EXISTING,, it was there way of getting around NOT covering pre-existing conditions..Essentially paying doctors off by lower all your malpractices insurance,,,for the doctors who still were humane in their hearts,,and gave the pre-existing chronic medically ill patient in physical pain,,gave them the needed medicine at effective dosages,,,our government arrests them,slanders them In the press to contaminate all juror pools,takes their assets,Our government DESTROYS THEM,,,AND THEIR LIFE WORK,, for practicing medicine at a effective humane level,,,,maryw

  • To all of those people that want to keep criticizing “big pharma” as you like to use the catch phrase (why not just say big bad pharma), I personally choose to look at the entire picture. Without “big pharma”, people would still be dying of simple infections, cancer patients wouldn’t stand a chance, high blood pressure would destroy ones body, people with Hep C would still would be without hope, depression and anxiety would continue to destroy lives, people with sexual dysfunction would be left with no hope, people with chronic pain would have no shot at a better quality of life. Yeah, they make big bucks, and they should. They develop and provide life saving and life altering medications that improve quality of life, as well as extend life expectancy. Our doctors rely heavily on these medications to manage short term, as well as chronic health conditions. So, to all the jackasses, (Mike Moore the egotistical zealot?) who claim they’re going to bankrupt these drug manufacturers, just think of where we would be without them. Natural remedies? Good luck with that. Think before you speak.

    • Mr Freeman,
      I suppose I need to remind you that American tax payers funded a lot of the research that led to these drugs being developed. There was plenty of room for profit for these pharma companies, yet they chose to undermine the laws, deceive the public, and gouge us. They paid off enough politicians and policy makers to endanger our health. We no longer have regulations or credible science to protect any of us. Pharma is not acting in the interest of public health, they are killing us. There should be some kind of balance where, publicly funded research is applied to the pharma products cost. The FDA failed to properly regulate the pharma industry to protect public health. Forums like this are used to spread pharma industry propaganda. The pharma industry even used the so called opiate epidemic to market useless and dangerous products.

  • Here is a September 2018 press release from Colorado’s Attorney General outlining the full degree of culpability and potential criminality of Perdue Pharmaceutical company;
    Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman Sues Purdue Pharma for its Role in Creating the Opioid Epidemic

    DENVER – Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman filed a lawsuit today against Purdue Pharma L.P. and Purdue Pharma, Inc. alleging that the companies’ fraudulent and deceptive marketing of prescription opioids played a significant role in causing the opioid epidemic ravaging Colorado and the rest of the nation. The lawsuit claims that Purdue misled Colorado health care providers and consumers about the addiction risks associated with prescription opioids and encouraged doctors to prescribe more opioids and at higher doses for longer periods of time. The result was a financial windfall for the company and a historic deadly epidemic that has killed thousands of Coloradans and left many thousands more struggling with opioid addiction.

    The complaint alleges that Purdue’s decades-long marketing campaign sought to flood Colorado with prescription opioids. Purdue funded purportedly independent national pain organizations and experts and deployed an army of sales representatives to convince Colorado health care providers, policymakers, and the general public that prescription opioids were safe and effective for treating chronic pain. Specifically, the lawsuit claims that:

    · Purdue downplayed the risk of addiction associated with opioids and the extent to which it could be managed;

    · Purdue exaggerated the benefits of opioid treatment by overstating their efficacy at treating chronic non-cancer pain and improving patients’ functionality and quality of life;

    · Purdue manufactured a fake syndrome called “pseudoaddiction” in order to counter claims that opioids could lead to abuse and addiction;

    · Purdue deceptively advised health care professionals that they could manage and avoid addiction in their patients;

    · Purdue misrepresented that OxyContin is effective for 12 hours, which led doctors and patients to increase the frequency and dosages of OxyContin and enhance the likelihood of addiction;

    · Purdue downplayed the increased risks posed by higher dosages of prescription opioids and advised health care professionals that they were violating their Hippocratic Oath and failing their patients unless they treated pain symptoms with opioids;

    · Purdue overstated the efficacy of abuse-deterrent formulations of opioids;

    · Purdue downplayed the severity of opioid withdrawal; and

    · Purdue misrepresented the risks and benefits of opioids as compared to the risks and benefits associated with alternative pain treatments.

    The lawsuit accuses Purdue of violating the Colorado Consumer Protection Act by engaging in fraudulent business practices and creating a public nuisance that endangered the public.

    “Purdue unleashed a surge of prescription opioids on Coloradans while hiding the facts about their drugs’ addictive properties,” said Attorney General Coffman. “Their corporate focus on making money took precedence over patients’ long-term health, and Colorado has been paying the price in loss of life and devastation of its communities as they struggle to address the ongoing opioid crisis. Purdue’s habit- forming medications coupled with their reckless marketing have robbed children of their parents, families of their sons and daughters, and destroyed the lives of our friends, neighbors, and co-workers. While no amount of money can bring back loved-ones, it can compensate for the enormous costs brought about by Purdue’s intentional misconduct.”

    “Purdue failed in its responsibility to ensure that consumers understood the risks associated with their products,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “We applaud this action and believe it is appropriate to safeguard the health of all Coloradans. We will do everything we can to support transparency in health care. Pharmaceutical companies play a vital role in our health care system, but trust in those companies and their products is critical.”

    As detailed in the complaint, between 1999 and 2017, there have been approximately 3,000 prescription opioid-related deaths in Colorado, not including overdoses from synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl, or those who turned to heroin when they were no longer able to afford or access prescription opioids. Despite a decline in overall opioid prescriptions in Colorado since 2013, the 372 opioid deaths in 2017 represent a 26% increase in just the last four years. Colorado’s most vulnerable citizens have been especially impacted by the opioid epidemic. As of 2014, 3.6 of every 1,000 children born in a Colorado hospital suffer from neonatal abstinence syndrome, a 160% increase from 1999.[1] And opioid-related hospitalizations for Coloradans over the age of 65 increased by 83% over the past eight years.[2]

    Attorney General Coffman has been part of a bipartisan coalition of over 40 state attorneys general investigating and prosecuting opioid manufacturers and distributors for their role in causing the opioid epidemic. As announced in 2017, Coffman and her colleagues in other states issued subpoenas to Endo Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan plc, as well as the drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson. Colorado has been among the states leading the investigations of these companies over the past year. The Colorado Attorney General’s Office has created a unit within the office focused specifically on the opioid investigation, and this team possesses the requisite expertise to best represent the state’s interest in this complicated issue. “Having the Attorney General’s Office represent the state ensures that any money obtained from litigation is returned to Colorado communities and those directly impacted by the opioid crisis, rather than going to pay for private law firm fees,” Coffman explained.

    “Today’s lawsuit is only the beginning,” said Coffman. “My office, in partnership with federal, state, and local authorities around the country, will continue to investigate and pursue justice against drug companies that earn billions of dollars from prescription opioids while millions of people suffer and die. My office stands with all of those first responders, physicians, nurses, social workers, teachers, state agencies, and nonprofits in Colorado that work on the front lines of this epidemic every day. And to those parents, children, friends, and neighbors who continue to fight the scourge of opioid addiction, my office and our state and national partners are committed to holding drug companies accountable and getting you the help you need.”

    Because Purdue has claimed that certain information in the complaint is confidential, the Attorney General has filed the complaint under temporary seal and has asked the court to keep the complaint sealed no longer than 10 days. The Attorney General is adamant that the public interest in these allegations and the information supporting them far outweighs any of Purdue’s privacy concerns, particularly since much of the information has been disclosed in similar lawsuits around the country.

    Purdue manufactures, promotes, markets, advertises, and sells its own specific prescription opioids including: Butrans (buprenorphine), Dilaudid (hydromorphone hydrochloride), Dilaudid-HP (hydromorphone hydrochloride), Hysingla ER (hydrocodone bitrate), MS Contin (morphine sulfate extended release), OxyContin (oxycodone hydrochloride extended release), Ryzolt (tramadol HCI extended-release), and Targiniq ER (oxycodone hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride).

    In addition to today’s lawsuit, Attorney General Coffman continues to pursue other avenues for addressing the opioid crisis in Colorado. She chairs the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force, which worked with multiple partners, including the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, to produce the groundbreaking Heroin in Colorado report in 2017. The report focused on examining the scope of the heroin crisis in Colorado and evaluated potential areas in need of critical response. A copy of that report can be found at http://www.corxconsortium.org/wp-content/uploads/Heroin-in-Colorado-FINAL-April-2017.pdf.

    Attorney General Coffman also has led the highly successful Colorado Naloxone for Life Initiative, which is a statewide partnership to save lives with the opioid overdose reversal medication, Naloxone, by providing training and access to the medication to law enforcement agencies and first responders across Colorado. To date, the program has reported more than 400 overdose reversals. More information about the program can be found at https://coag.gov/press-room/press-releases/09-19-16.

    For anyone who is struggling with addiction, there are services available to help. For more information go to: http://www.corxconsortium.org/wp-content/uploads/OTP.pdf or contact: http://coloradocrisisservices.org/

Comments are closed.