Civil War on Pain Relief


Florida's House passes a bill, supported by Jeb Bush, to create a prescription painkiller user database. My favorite detail of the unlovely combination of rampant anti-federalism and essential gangsterism on the part of government that dominates America is buried at the end of the Associated Press copy:

The U.S. Department of Justice, which is pushing such databases nationwide, would also help fund the database startup as would the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, the Connecticut-based maker of OxyContin that has pledged $2 million toward the program ? an offer that expires in July.

The pledge was made in November 2002 when the state dropped an investigation into how the company marketed OxyContin.

More examples of drug companies being dragged into helping the state fight its pointless and evil battles against users of pain killers in this New York Times story as reprinted in the Arizona Daily Star.

To counter abuse, drug makers are developing ways to reformulate prescription pain-killers.

Purdue Pharma in Stamford, Conn., which makes OxyContin, is thinking of adding a second drug, called an opiate antagonist, that neutralizes the effects of the opiate.

A patient who swallowed the drug would get full pain relief, as intended. But if someone tampered with the pills, the antagonist would be released.

Then, said Dr. David Haddox, Purdue's vice president for health policy, one of two things would happen: "If you are a recreational drug user, you feel nothing. The effect is canceled out.

"But if you are physically dependent, you get no euphoria and it might cause withdrawal."

A second approach is to mix in a chemical irritant like capsaicin, the main ingredient of hot chili peppers.

Because the esophagus and stomach do not have many receptors for hot peppers, patients could take the pills as prescribed and find relief, he said. But anyone who ground up such a pill would get a burning feeling in the chest, face, rectum and extremities.

Also on the anti-federalism in order to quash painkillers front, this piece from the Hawaii Reporter, calling into question some of the suppositions behind this war on pain relief:

Among the government's justification for what Drug Czar John Walters calls "a widespread and serious problem in this country, one that calls for immediate action," is the claim that 6.2 million Americans abused prescription drugs in 2002. The government's numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. For instance, government officials claim that nearly 500 people died from overdosing on the prescription drug OxyContin in 2002; but an article in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology found only 12 cases in which OxyContin specifically was the cause of death. All the others died from poly-drug abuse -- mixing OxyContin with other substances such as alcohol or cocaine. A significant distinction