Civil War on Pain Relief

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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

NEXT: Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Kodos

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  1. Oh, the pain, the pain!

  2. If you endure enough pain and suffering won’t it lead you to Jesub?

  3. Was Rush “Send the junkies to jail, except me” Limbaugh available for comment?

  4. What exactly is the objection to altering the pill so it can’t be used recreationally?

    Well, ok, I know the answer to that one. So, what is the PRINCIPLED objection?

  5. As any fan of hot food would know, just because you gulp down some hot peppers quickly enough not to taste them with your mouth doesn’t mean you won’t taste them out the other end soon after.

    Of course, the pain relief from the opiates might well mitigate the “ring of fire”.

  6. joe,
    I think the problem is less the action than what brought about the action. If the drug companies did that to reduce abuse on their own, it’s their perogative. However, if they did it because of government pressure and fear of databases that will make legitimate sales more difficult/impossible, then it’s bad. Though there is an interesting point. The drug companies probably profit a great deal from the illicit use and sale of their drugs. This helps innoculate them from suspicion that they don’t give a damn about the illicit use and may be a positive PR move.

  7. Just as an aside: does that abuse statistic include Jeb’s daughter who was convicted of writing a (blatantly) fake script? Just checking, because it was a “family issue” when they asked him about it back then…

  8. The PRINCIPED objection is that there should be no consensual crimes in a free society. The government should not be ALLOWED to treat you like government property.

    As Thomas Jefferson stated in his _Notes on the State of Virginia_, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as they are injurious to others.

    That’s a PRINCIPLE.

  9. “The PRINCIPED objection is that there should be no consensual crimes in a free society. The government should not be ALLOWED to treat you like government property.”

    What does that have to with a drug company putting stuff in their pills to keep you from getting a buzz off snorting it?

  10. Any law that denys someone in pain surcease from that pain is a bad law. Any one who allows laws to prevent recreational drug use to be used to punish someone who needs pain killers and can’t get them should be jailed.
    Legislators who pass laws against “Doctor Shopping” should be given an opportunity to experience unrelieved pain.

  11. Any law that denys someone in pain surcease from that pain is a bad law. Any one who allows laws to prevent recreational drug use to be used to punish someone who needs pain killers and can’t get them should be jailed.
    Legislators who pass laws against “Doctor Shopping” should be given an opportunity to experience unrelieved pain.

  12. “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere might be having fun” — H.L. Mencken’s definition of Puritanism.

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