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Vermont fights the opioid epidemic by limiting prescribed painkillers


Prescriptions

(NaturalNews) Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin is planning to combat his state's opioid problem by limiting the number of painkillers that can be prescribed.

The governor's proposal is part of his strategy to address what has become a severe crisis in Vermont over the past few years.

In a statement, Shumlin said:

"Vermont, and the rest of America, will not get a handle on the opiate and heroin addiction crisis until we confront head-on the source of the problem: FDA-approved opiates that are handed out like candy.

"Vermont doctors and providers have been on the leading edge of curbing the irrational exuberance with which opiates are handed out. These proposed limits will solidify that progress and help Vermont continue to lead the nation when it comes to combating this crisis."

OxyContin 'lit the match that ignited America's opiate and heroin addiction crisis'

Shumlin has been outspoken regarding the opioid epidemic, and believes that the easy availability of drugs like OxyContin and other powerful opioid painkillers is the driving factor behind the problem.

In this year's State of the State address, Shumlin castigated the FDA and Big Pharma over OxyContin, a drug which he said, "lit the match that ignited America's opiate and heroin addiction crisis."

"Just a few months ago, the FDA approved OxyContin for kids," he said. "You can't make this stuff up. The $11 billion a year opiate industry in America knows no shame."

The new guidelines are intended to limit the number of pills that can be prescribed; after a minor procedure, only nine to 12 pills would be included in the first prescription.

Without such restrictions, the amount of pills prescribed can vary widely, according to state health commissioner, Harry Chen. This can lead to addiction or the potential for overdose. Chen said that in 2015, enough opioids were prescribed in Vermont to give every man, woman and child a bottle of 100 oxycodone tablets.

The proposal would also require doctors to discuss the risks of opioid use with patients, and gain informed consent before prescribing painkillers. Doctors will be expected to discuss alternatives with their patients, "requiring them to consider other treatments before opioids are prescribed, rather than as a last resort," said Chen.

How Big Pharma created 2.1 million opioid addicts

Waiting for the federal government to effectively tackle the opioid epidemic is a waste of time. For decades, the FDA and DEA looked the other way while Big Pharma quietly began turning a significant portion of the American public into drug addicts.

Aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies led to the widespread use of opioids to manage long-term chronic pain – as opposed to using opioids only for acute pain or palliative purposes.

Purdue – the maker of OxyContin – lied to the public, saying that the time-release properties of its drug made it less addictive than other opioids. In 2007, Purdue pleaded guilty to having misled regulators, physicians and patients, and ended up paying $634 million in fines, but the epidemic continues.

Opioid prescriptions in the U.S. more than doubled between 2000 and 2014, and there are an estimated 2.1 million American opioid abusers. More than 40 Americans die each day from prescription opioids, and all the federal government does is drag its feet and make promises.

In fact, the FDA seems to be trying to make opioids even more available – to children, no less!

In 2015, the FDA approved the "limited" use of OxyContin for children between the ages of 11 and 16.

None of this may seem too surprising when one takes into account the fact that Big Pharma spent nearly $900 million in lobbying and campaign contributions between 2006 and 2015.

Until we can stop the flow of money from opioid sales into the pockets of drug-makers and politicians, we should expect the epidemic to continue unabated.

Sources:

ABCNews.go.com

NYTimes.com

Digital.VPR.net

ThePharmaLetter.com

PBS.org

DailyCaller.com

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