Updated 8/9/18 and cut for length. Please see part 2 to view previous info, now in that segment.
“…A Terrible Disease.”
Addiction is, indeed, a terrible thing, and I am glad to see it being recognized, less stigmatized, and more genuine help offered to those struggling. But agenda-driven propaganda will not help those with addiction, in fact it has already been shown to cause harm to both addicts and chronic pain patients, who have found themselves blind-sided in recent years with a new stigma attached to their medical needs, particularly, the medications they need to stave off disability, poverty, loneliness, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, loss of quality of life, and even early death (by natural-the body can only take so much untreated pain-and suicidal means). Those medications are overwhelmingly opioids.
A 2018 documentary called, “Do No Harm: An Opioid Epidemic,” featuring Dr. Andrew Kolodny (to whom I recently wrote an open letter) and “working closely with Dr. Kolodny and PROP“, is a classic propaganda film that’s been influencing a lot of viewers and, therefore, a lot of lives. I viewed this film a few nights ago, and 90 minutes and 9 pages of handwritten notes later, I began writing this *series of posts.
The film begins by insulting doctors, painting a portrayal of Purdue Pharma as an “evil” corporation (and, by extension, their products, aka opioids), castigating chronic pain patients (presumably for having the audacity to be in pain that only responds to opioids), and throwing out odd claims without sources of any kind. For example, one of the closing statements says:
“While watching this documentary, 6 Americans have probably died from an overdose.” -Narrator (my emphasis added)
We’re off to a great start already!
Throughout the film, people struggling with addiction are consistently portrayed as “brave survivors” and innocent victims who just didn’t know what they were getting into. A few blame Purdue Pharma (in particular) in the interviews, while others have a hard time admitting they did wrong or chose poorly. According to Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the classic first steps to addiction recovery is, “Admit you have a problem,” not “blame someone else.” Other steps include:
- Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Make a list of persons we had harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.
- Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Even Do No Harm admits the high recidivism rate of all those interviewed as poster-recovered-addicts (all clients from the Beit T’Shuvah Recovery Center). Out of approximately 11 people (the film jumps back and forth quite a bit), 2 went back to heroin within 2 years or less, and 5 are never even followed up with. One interviewee who was also an employee at the Recovery Center, said, “You see people coming and going all the time. It’s sad.” The film never reveals the type of treatment or therapy given at the center, but an internet search for the site and phone call to the center, proved that medication-assisted treatment (typically Suboxone/Subutex, a popular form of bupenorphine) “may be used, if deemed appropriate by the resident psychiatrist there.” Furthermore, the site claims they do use a 12-step recovery model, based on AA, though the statements of the interviewees and the purpose of the documentary itself, don’t seem to line up with those recovery values.
“We have to keep people alive so that they can recover,” states Casey’s mom, tearfully. Dr. Kolodny and the filmmakers of “Do No Harm” seem to think “recovery” means ongoing bupenorphine treatment for everyone, and sickeningly hints at the end of the film that all those dead children featured would probably be alive today, if bupenorphine had been a part of their treatment. For many people, medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is a part of their treatment, with highly mixed results. Furthermore, while heroin has a relative strength of 5x potency of oral morphine, bupenorphine has a relative strength of 40x, while hydrocodone (Vicodin) has a potency strength of -100x and oxycodone (the generic, short-acting version of Purdue Pharma’s oxycontin) has about 1x! see chart below.
In a separate phone conversation I had with Dr. Kolodny, as well as nearly every news article featuring him, Kolodny reiterates his strong support for MAT, or ongoing management of addiction symptoms and behavior using drugs. Dr. Kolodny’s drug of choice for such treatment has long been bupenorphine, an opioid sometimes combined with Nalaxone (popularly known as Narcan). Why would he promote this opioid, while staunchly condemning all the rest, I asked? “Because of the Naloxone element,” he told me, people are less likely to die or even overdose to begin with.
He’s been singing bupenorphine’s praises for decades, even formerly heading up a large chain of addiction centers called Phoenix House that touted heavy use of MAT. But investigative articles have been coming forth more and more, showing how Suboxone has been increasingly “diverted” for abuse, and may be complicit in a rise of overdose deaths. When I asked Dr. Kolodny about this on the phone, he dismissed these articles as “bad journalism.”
Dr. Kolodny’s apparent obsession with opioids is hard to understand. While certainly a major issue that needs addressed (and has been), heroin is not the only drug people overdose on (and drugs are not the only things people can be destructively addicted to), and in fact, cocaine has been consistently number 2 and 3 for overdose deaths in 2010-2014 (Table B), according to the CDC. Other drugs include fentanyl (the illicit kind, not the prescription kind), methamphetamine (which is on the rise), hydrocodone (Vicodin/norco), and benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety medications).
The film throws shocking stats around — stats that have also appeared in other media — such as:
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 500,000 people in the United States have died from overdoes of opioids since the year 2000.”
Thankfully, this is not accurate, neither is the study sourced in the film. Rather, this CDC media release from 2015 which states, “nearly a half-million Americans” have died from prescription opioid overdoses and heroin OD, is not shown via stats, just statements, by Tom Frieden, the then-CDC head until 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p1218-drug-overdose.html. However, the CDC has NOT estimated anywhere near this number. The recorded number of deaths in 2016 was roughly 42,200, 5 times higher than in 1999, or roughly 8400. Even assuming that the death toll was 40,000 (it wasn’t) each year from 2000-2015, you still only get 200,000, not 500K. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html
Even when presented with current studies and facts, Dr. Kolodny refuses to update his methods, teachings, or beliefs according to data and science. Although he invited me to share updated studies with him via email, he never responded to my email or a Tweeted reminder from myself. He goes so far as to directly blast anyone or any study that disagrees with his teachings, throwing them under the proverbial bus for not being as unbalanced in approach as he is.
Attacking Doctors and Other Medical Professionals (Along with the FDA, Purdue Pharma, and Whomever Else is Convenient)
The opening statement of the film reveals all:
“The drug companies are the cartel, the doctors are the pushers, and the pharmacists are the suppliers: that’s how the DEA is seeing it.” –Mark Borovitz, Rabbi/CEO, Beit T’Shuvah Recovery [Addiction] Center
That hard-line idea is pushed repeatedly throughout the film. In just the first 2 minutes, the notion of corrupt doctors, evil pharmaceutical companies, and irresponsible pharmacies, is reiterated 3 different times!
The narrator says early in the film that Purdue Pharma’s goal in marketing oxycontin was, “corrupting doctors and nurses to sell the Kool-Aid,” and later on at the 21 min. mark, giant text reads, “The Epidemic Spreads: From the Doctor’s Office to the Street.”
Much later in the film, Anna Lembke, MD Chief of Addiction Medicine at Standford claims, “Opioids are a proxy for doctor-patient relationships.” She then goes on to describe the euphoric high that addicts experience (it should be emphasized that the majority of pain patients do not experience this euphoric high), ending with, “…you feel cradled [by the doctor]…You thank them, the doctor feels gratified, the doctor writes another script.”
A chronic pain patient featured in the film, who had probably been over-medicated for a number of years and had since been tapered down from her previous fentanyl patches and oxycondone to a new, unrevealed dose, is described at the end of film by the narrator, “Linda lost years of quality of life by innocently trusting her doctors to do no harm.”
The film then switches tactics to blast the FDA for it’s “ludicrous” (and alleged conspiracy-theory) decision to add pain as the 5th vital sign in the 90s (actually a 2001 Joint Commission decision), because it was allegedly paid big money by Purdue Pharma. While no evidence has yet been found for this claim, the film blames “dark money”. Kolodny’s still pretty sore, I guess, that the FDA didn’t acquiesce to his demands in 2013 to strictly limit the use of opioids in chronic pain (see image below). Allegations are lobbed about an “unholy alliance” between the FDA and Purdue to get oxycontin approved, although this is exactly what the FDA does: approve pharmaceuticals if they meet government standards.
Bad Science Leads to Bad Policies
Giant text on the screen reads, “Over 259 million opioids prescribed per year,” while narration adds, “at the height of the epidemic”. But which year is being referred to? Which study is being referenced? There are an estimated 326 million people currently in America, and we document EVERY prescription written, which means 1 prescription every month for chronic pain patients, or roughly 21.5 million per month. That’s only about 6.6% of the total population. Don’t the filmmakers know that the rate of opioid prescribing WAS ALREADY GOING DOWN by 2012, presumably because of far stricter state laws? Yet another bit of giant text reads, “From 1999-2017, over 500,000 opioid-related deaths.” Except that turns out not to be true at all. More like roughly 123,560, less than a quarter of the “estimated” number of deaths, according to the CDC (Table B).
Please read part 2 here.
38 thoughts on “PROPaganda, Part 1 of 2”
I am a 6 year CRPS patient. The only thing higher on the Magill Pain Scale is Terminal Cancer. I have this HORRIBLE disease in both feet, shins, palms and at the 3 incisions for my Spinal cord Stimulator implant. I get Zero Euphoria and just a small amount of pain relief with the 20mg a day total hydromorphone. It’s enough that I can get out of bed and do a few very small things. Otherwise, my life is a burning, don’t touch me and try to smile one spoon at a time moment to moment.
Thank you for your work on this and being our Voice!
I’m so sorry to hear this, Candis. I think things are slowly turning around for us CPP patients, but it’s like trying to steer the Titanic! Try to hang in there. Wishing you a pain-free or pain-reduced day.
That was a great Pt 1 I’m a PP suffering from this opioid hysteria (spine fusion c 4-7 neck). I heard something awhile ago wondering if you or anyone else has? Since the peek yrs of abuse started in about 2006-10 has there been any connection to the poppy fields of Afghanistan? I guess the US Military doesn’t destroy them and the time frame works. Somebody may be making $. I also was RX’d OxyContin, for me 1 mo said no way it made me just spontaneously Faint ! scary. so I can see it mabey not good. I know here in Oregon 06 was a high mark for deaths. It’s been going down since. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/oregon-opioid-summary
Thank you! I heard recently that Suboxone was being used where I live at the addiction treatment centers. I found out because the drug is being ABUSED by addicts! The ones in treatment are selling it to others! To get away with it, they just use half a strip, etc. This angers me so much that I end up in tears! Here I am in daily pain, with many others that are contemplating ending their lives, for a drug that addicts are just abusing! I haven’t done any research on it, myself, because I am so tired of fighting. 😦
Reblogged this on LibertyCat’s Scratchings and commented:
Has any one ever thought there’s has to be some reason Kolodny is pushing buprenorphine as if it’s some cure all
He clams he does not have any finacial ties to Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc or Indivor
Yet he pushes Subutex and Suboxone which is marketed by
Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc and Indivor
This is a interesting article could They have fabricated the entire opioid crisis fir profits.
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I do think he’s got financial ties somewhere, but so far I haven’t been able to find anything on the books. If he were interested in helping addicts as he claims, he would be more rounded and balanced in approach, not just pushing for everyone to be on a government-funded, lifetime supply of bupenorphine!
It would be a very good place to start .
He was pushing this dangerous drug when he was a NYC Dept of Mental Health Psychiatrist . Primarily in the city’s jails and psychiatric hospital . Not even remotely the same demographic as most pain patients . That’s. Not to say Nantes and the veery mentally ill do not suffer from chronic pain . They can and do.
They are not anywhere near typical Abd how do they easily say no?
The film is pure PROPaganda .
I’ve been trying to explican the fabricated statistics in a way that’s easy to understand
As long notice Kolodny and PROP have never litigated when they are exposed for making up stats
If you can get a copy of the original testimony and discovery in the first suit against Perdue they discovered many so called accidental addicts histories of substance abuse . One had been in federal prison for distribution . Intereresting
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The facts certainly do not line up with Kolodny’s claims. Unfortunately-fortunately, these facts are quite easy to find, and there are plenty of them. It just appears that our political leaders cannot read.
Oh they can read . They are choosing a a simple fix to a complex problem . Despite the common belief , addiction is not equal opputunity. I’m my exerince in a ER and dealing with overdoses and other crisises that involve drugs the overwhelming common denominator are poverty , unemployment / underemployment and lack of opputunity .
One question I’ve asked anti opiod activists is : Why are addicts who have chosen to use illegal drugs which they know are likely to be adulterated with a Fentanyl analogue more important then law abiding people . Who through no fault of thier own live in constant pain . In my life prior to becoming a pain patient I was very active , still try to stay in shape and hike but my dreams got crushed . Should I now be bed ridden in agony because addicts refuse to accept any responsibility ?
This seems to be what PROP Kolodny and the are saying .
Then they give you a Hobbsian choice take Buprenorphine or suffer ! Go to a drug rehab . Which PROP members have finacial interests in or suffer withdrawal and live in pain . Take buprenorphine or live in pain .
You are right the information is not hard to find
I gave hr wrong link
Not sure why I copied it wrong
But try this
I have a whole lot of research though not as organized as yours .
Btw I also am a avid photographer I’ll lose that should opoiod medication be prohibited or highly restricted.
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Our best bet, I think, is to keep pushing the truth in their faces and push them out of office. It makes me ill to think that is the only way we can hold officials accountable for the misery, untold suffering, and deaths of so many that they are directly responsible for.
Do you have an online portfolio for your photography?
It would be interesting to find a brave journalist willing to expose this . The Opoiod Hysteria was manufactured to sell buprenorphine .
If Kolodny and PROP are shown to have worked worked with Reckitt Benckiser and Indivor to fabricate a crisis for profit . Many laws could be fought in court and if they eres based on fraudulent research intended to deceive ( espe which it’s appears is exactly what is happening . If it is done for financial gain or to subvert the legislative process and or already established policy . The FDA rejected the exact send guidelines . PROP went to Tom Frieden and the compliant CDC . We got cruel guidlines based on at best poor quality studies at worse intentionally deceptive gibberish and pseudo science .
It should be mentioned the Heller School gets federal grants and is involved in PDMPs .
It appears to be a conflict of interest at minimum if
Kolodny is involved with PDMPs and is getting federal grants to fund PROP’s agenda of opioid prohibition .
We might be able to end the Hysteria and panic . Return to sanity and allow pain patients the medication we need to have a life . We do not need to be forced on to Buprenorphine , Cymbalta and Lyrica. With all of their dangerous side effects because addicts refuse to stop
choosing to use illegal heroin with Fentanyl analogues . They are well aware of the danger and still choose illegal drugs over rehab and Buprenorphine . Then maybe that’s. Why it’s being pushed on us . Addicts don’t want it and choose not to go to rehab . Unless faced with prison or probation .
My cynical lawyer friends often have some dark humor about how addicts get the addiction disease in the holding cell when faced with going to prison it’s interesting to hear .
There has to be some exchange going on . No one is as fanatical as Kolodny and PROP with out some type of gain . Ideological Conflicts of interests can be even more dangerous then financial COIs When they are combined the result is disastrous .
It certainly appears that the opioid hysteria was manufactured and fabricated out of nothing . I’ll try to find the info on the accidental addicts. Actually having substance abuse problems . If enough people read and pass along this eventually questions will be asked all it will take is the right case to hit the courts . I suspect that might be sooner than later in the age of the internet , instant communication And of course if you are a public figure there’s no where to hide everything can and will be found .
Yes I do have some photos on Flickr I’d be happy to send the address if you have a contact email for your blog I probably missed it
When Kolodny worked with Freidan in NY, he started his Bupenorphine evangelizing, offering physicials $10K to use the drug. You can’t tell me there wasn’t some money in it for him as well.
Exactly. I haven’t found “hard” evidence, but there sure is a lot of circumstantial evidence.
I see my first post was too large.
Not to still your thunder,
The seeds of the opioid crisis were sowed by the Powerful, Privileged, and Greedy-minded architects of the American Medical Association > 100 years ago.
The Sinister Anti-science Roots:
False: Pain is Degenerative Arthritis Viewed by X-ray treated with painkillers, joint replacements, and spinal fusions, and nerve repairs.
Fact: Pain is a normal part of our lifestyles, stresses strains contusions traumatic injuries deceit and grief treated with a recipe of therapies.
Fact: Pain can also be by a medical or surgical event resolved by the appropriate medicine and or surgery.
All healing occurs within the mind body and spirit by God-given forces from within embedded in our DNA!
People cannot heal.
Drugs cannot heal.
Surgery cannot heal.
The AMA is not just an association it has produced millions of physicians who act in their favor, not in Americans favors.
The opioid crisis will not be resolved without a universal consensus among all the authorities in control of our country.
So, the solution to chronic pain and the opioid crisis have to come from the American Medical Association.
All the AMA have to do is add back age-old, old-school, hands-on PT muscle release therapies, massage, osteopathic, chiropractic, acupuncture, Gunn needling, myofascial release, trigger point injections and the like.
Fantastic article! Can’t wait for the second one. Thank you for this.
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Thank you, Tina!
Thank you for advocating. Since we are no longer able to get treatment from our PMC,s the Pain Mgmt. Drs are screening us in order to make sure we are able to get injections. Injections nearly killed me with A1C levels rocketing! I have no idea where that leaves me. No Opiades even with pain mgmt. wow?
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Are you ready to learn what it has taken me 20 of my 35 yrs medical career to conclude and reduce into common sense? “Pain and Simple, easy as Motherly 1 2 3 and A B C”! Realy!
Did you know?
100 years ago the AMA American Medical Association original architects did not have honor and integrity in their mission.
Our entire healthcare medical system and what physicians do for you is set upon a money and monopoly foundation.
Dr. Sabatier, the most powerful sinister force within the AMA hell-bent on pushing pharmaceuticals and surgery for every medical problem. The other part of his dastardly diabolical plan was to push out all of the traditional valid vetted ways and means to resolve chronic pain. He and his corrupt society of officers killed chiropractors, osteopaths, acupuncturist, myofascial release Masters all of which are remedies perfected in Europe and Asia tens of thousands of years ago.
Americans have been denied these natural remedies since the beginning of the American Medical Association.
Proof: In 1990, the American Medical Association was convicted of organized criminal racketeering by the federal government under FTC violations.
From my view within the rabbit hole, the AMA never stopped and have actually ratcheted up the ungodliness.
Guess what? All of these natural chronic pain remedies were perfected to the degree by Masters of muscle release therapies 50 years ago. All of these authors are actively being shamed and in the back alleys.
Reblogged this on Starvin Larry.
Bravo! Special K and his gang are true hypocrites by placing the double standard of advocating the prescribing a potent opioid-based medication to one with a recent history of opioid abuse, including for the rest of the patient’s life and for the length of time the patient feels he needs it (which I have no issue with) while denying opioid-based medication (the only class of medication approved by our government to reduce severe physical pain) to those who are experiencing a great deal of physical pain from an injury, surgery, disease or disorder. Also, if Suboxone is taken as directed, the naloxone remains dormant, meaning buprenorphine (an opioid 40 times more potent than morphine) is the only active medication in the medication. The naloxone is released only when Suboxone is crushed then injected.
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So, the short version is Dr. What’sHisLyingFace is trying to sell *his* drug and demonize the better, maligned ones.
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That’s what it seems like to me! But I actually talked to this guy on the phone a few weeks ago, and he was very defensive and insistent that he had never been a sales rep for bupenorphine. He sure peddles it like there’s no tomorrow, though.
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The best lobbyist is one who is not officially on the take.
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Why is there No control or over view on DEA. If there is oversight on every area of government including the president why not DEA? Why was The only input to build cdcs guidelines on opioid pain management , no input from physicians who have cared for patients. That have spent yrs trying all approved alternatives with no relief but opioids. Now forced to suffer until their hearts are so severely affected that death is the only resultfrom this” PROP HYSTERIA”!!!These cdc guidelines need to be re written yesterday to include pain management specialists who are aware these opioidsare NOT HEROIN PAIN PILLS..These medicationsseem to be the only treatment for most that help gain basic health function . Stopping these induced severe heart conditions that are killing these innocent patients who have Never had any heart problems in their 40 – 60 yrs of life until denied the only pain management medication that keeps them functioning & to Stop’s thes severe health problems from ever starting . Basic function is what is needed to fight the aggressive decline in these diseases and injuries Stop DEA and prop from influencing more opioid hysteria . Now before more pain patients die , we’re not talking about addicts !!!
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I’m so sorry for your pain. We’ll get this turned around. Good doctors are starting to fight back!
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My PCP dismissed me after 25 years with the same medical group. I’ve already had blood pressure issues as well as heart racing. I am 67 yrs old and do not look forward to the withdraw from 15-18 yrs of opioid use. But this is my sentence. i’m amazed that a doctor can put a patient into such a life threatening predicament.
I’m so sorry for your pain.
I just LOVE your blog! Subscribed after reading your “opien letter”. Keep up your wonderful work!!!
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Aw, thank you so much! 🙂
Do you have a link to your letter?
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