TODAY IS….. WHO WILL NOT BE HERE TOMORROW

Today is 08/23/2017

2016 in review … what killed us

2600 Americans will die EVERY DAY – from various reasons

2700 people  WILL ATTEMPT SUICIDE

140 will be SUCCESSFUL – including 20 veterans

270 will die from hospital acquired antibiotic resistant “bug” because staff won’t properly wash hands and/or proper infection control.

350 will die from their use/abuse of the drug ALCOHOL

1200 will die from their use/abuse of the drug NICOTINE

1400 will contract C-DIF from Hospital or Nursing home because staff doesn’t properly wash their hands are adhere to infection control       80 WILL DIE mostly elderly.

850 will die from OBESITY

700 will die from medical errors

150 will die from Flu/Pneumonia

80 will die from Homicide

80 will die in car accidents

70 From ALL DRUG ABUSE


I am being completely weaned off my meds, & suspect I will kill myself with the amount of pain I am in, & will be by the time this is over (the wean that is). Already can’t function.


My husband committed suicide after being abandoned by his pain dr.


Please pray for me as I am on the brink of suicide! I don’t want to die but can’t handle the pain anymore! The doctor that I am currently seeing will not give me enough pills to last all month every month… I have to wait until Oct to get in with a pain management doctor whom I already know by others that I know sees this doctor that he will help me, need prayer to hold on until oct… I keep thinking of my family who needs me hear.


“We just lost another intractable member of our support group two nights ago. She committed suicide because her medications were taken away for interstitial cystitis (a horribly painful bladder condition) and pudendal neuralgia, both of which she had battled for years


D D., journalist and prescribed fentanyl patient for a dozen years joined me on air last weekend with her husband and spoke of her suicide plan should the only relief from constant agony be heavily reduced or taken away.


I was told last Friday that my Dr. will be tapering my meds again . When I told him I didn’t think my body could take another lowering he stated ” it wasn’t my
License on the line”, I stated ” no , but it’s my life on the line”!!!!! I can not continue to live this way . I can not continue to suffer in agony when my medications and dose where working just fine before and I was a productive member of society . I can no longer take this. I have a plan in place to end my life myself When I am forced to reduce my Medications again . I just can’t do it anymore .


On Friday at around 9 p.m. U.S. Navy veteran Kevin Keller parked his red pickup truck in the parking lot at the Wytheville Rite-Aid, walked across the grass and stood in front of the U.S. Veterans Community Based Outpatient Clinic next door.

Sick and tired of being in pain, he pulled out a gun, shot a hole in the office door, aimed the gun barrel at his head and ended his hurt once and for all.


As a longterm pain patient with a current unsupportive pain dr, I just thought I’d share the reality of the position I’m in right now…

I’m in very bad pain all the time for very legit and well documented reasons. My pain dr however never gives me enough meds to help me. He just keeps reducing them, which is causing me to be in even more pain and suffer so much more. My quality of life also continues to go downhill at the same time. I was just given a letter by him recently too about some study indicating an increase in deaths if you take opioids and benzos. It stated he’s no longer going to give pain meds to anyone who is taking a benzo. I take one, because I have to, for a seizure disorder, not because I want to. He told me to pick one or the other though, plus went ahead and reduced my pain meds some more. He doesn’t seem to care the least bit. I’ve looked hard and so far I can’t find another one to get in to see near me at this time, but I’m desperately still trying. Unfortunately, they’re few and far between here, in addition to the wait for an appointment being long. I’ve even called hospice for help. So far, they haven’t been of much help either, because I don’t have a dr who will say I have six months or less to live. I told them either choice my pain dr is giving me is very inhumane, so I’d rather just quit eating and drinking, to the point where I pass away from that, while I get some kind of comfort care from them. I don’t really want to though, although I do have a long list of some very bad health problems, including a high probability that I have cancer and it’s spread. Am I suicidal? No. Will I be if my pain and seizure meds are taken away. Highly likely. I never ever saw this coming either. I don’t have a clue what to do and the clock is ticking, but I’m still fighting for an answer. So far, I can’t find not even one dr to help me though. Not one. I know my life depends on it, but at what point will these drs let my suffering become so inhumane that I just can’t take it anymore. I just don’t know right now. It’s a very scary place to be in for sure. That I do know.


The patient was being denied the medicine that had been alleviating his pain and committed suicide because, “he couldn’t live with the pain anymore. He could not see a future. He had no hope. He had no life.”


I am a chronic pain patient who has been on fairly high doses of opiates for about nine years now. My dose has been forcibly reduced since the cdc guidelines. I moved to Oregon from Alaska and can’t find a doctor to prescribe my medication. I pray I have the strength not to take my own life!


Zach Williams of Minnesota  committed suicide at age 35. He was a veteran of Iraq and had experienced back pain and a brain injury from his time in service. He had treated his pain with narcotics until the VA began reducing prescriptions.


Ryan Trunzo committed suicide at the age of 26. He was an army veteran of Iraq. He had experienced fractures in his back for which he tried to get effective painkillers, but failed due to VA policy. His mother stated “I feel like the VA took my son’s life.”


Kevin Keller, a Navy veteran, committed suicide at age 52. He shot himself after breaking into the house of his friend, Marty Austin, to take his gun. Austin found a letter left by Keller saying “Marty sorry I broke into your house and took your gun to end the pain!” Keller had experienced a stroke 11 years earlier, and he had worsening pain in the last two years of his life because VA doctors would not give him pain medicine. On the subject of pain medication, Austin said that Keller “was not addicted. He needed it.”


Bob Mason, aged 67, of Montana committed suicide after not having access to drugs to treat his chronic pain for just one week. One doctor who had treated Mason was Mark Ibsen, who shut down his office after the Montana Board of Medical Examiners investigated him for excessive prescription of opioids. According to Mason’s daughter, Mason “didn’t like the drugs, but there were no other options.”


Donald Alan Beyer, living in Idaho, had experienced back pain for years. He suffered from  degenerative disc disease, as well as a job-related injury resulting in a broken back. After his doctor retired, Beyer struggled without pain medicine for months. He shot himself on his 47th birthday. His son, Garrett, said “I guess he felt suicide was his only chance for relief.”


Denny Peck of Washington state was 58 when he ended his life. In 1990, he experienced a severe injury to his vertebrae during a fishing accident. His mother, Lorraine Peck, said “[h]e has been in severe pain ever since,” and his daughter, Amanda Peck, “said she didn’t remember a time when her dad didn’t hurt.” During the last few years of his life, Peck had received opiates for his pain from a Seattle Pain Center, until these clinics closed. After suffering and being unable to find doctors who would help with his pain, Peck called 911. Two days later, Peck was found dead in his home with bullet wounds in his head. A note found near Peck read: “Can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t do anything. And all the whitecoats don’t care at all.”


Doug Hale of Vermont killed himself at the age of 53. He had experienced pain from interstitial cystitis, and decided to end his life six weeks after his doctor suddenly cut off his opiate painkillers. He left a note reading “Can’t take the chronic pain anymore” before he shot himself in the head. His doctor said he “was no longer willing to risk my license by writing you another script for opioids”  (see attachment A for details of the problem as relyed by his wife Tammi who is now 10 months without a husband as a direct result of the CDC guidelines to prevent deaths)Bruce Graham committed suicide after living with severe pain for two years. At age 62, Graham fell from a ladder, suffering several severe injuries. He had surgery and fell into a coma. After surgery, he suffered from painful adhesions which could not be removed. He relied on opioid painkillers to tolerate his pain, but doctors eventually stopped prescribing the medicine he needed. Two years after his fall, Graham shot himself in the heart to end the pain.


Travis Patterson, a young combat veteran, died two days after a suicide attempt at the age of 26. After the attempt to take his own life, Patterson was brought to the VA emergency room. Doctors offered therapy as a solution, but did not offer any relief for his pain. Patterson died two days after his attempted suicide.


54-year-old Bryan Spece of Montana  killed himself about two weeks after he experienced a major reduction in his pain medication. The CDC recommends a slow reduction in pain medicine, such as a 10% decrease per week. Based on information from Spece’s relative, Spece’s dose could have been reduced by around 70% in the weeks before he died.


In Oregon, Sonja Mae Jonsson ended her life when her doctor stopped giving her pain medicine as a result of the CDC guidelines.


United States veterans have been committing suicide after being unable to receive medicine for pain. These veterans include Peter Kaisen,Daniel Somers, Kevin Keller, Ryan Trunzo, Zach Williams, and Travis Patterson


A 40-year-old woman with fibromyalgia, lupus, and back issues appeared to have committed suicide after not being prescribed enough pain medicine. She had talked about her suicidal thoughts with her friends several times before, saying “there is no quality of life in pain.” She had no husband or children to care for, so she ended her life.


Sherri Little was 53 when she committed suicide. She suffered pain from occipital neuralgia, IBS, and fibromyalgia. A friend described Little as having a “shining soul of activism” as she spent time advocating for other chronic pain sufferers. However, Little had other struggles in her life, such as her feeling that her pain kept her from forming meaningful relationships. In her final days, Little was unable to keep down solid food, and she tried to get medical help from a hospital. When she was unable to receive relief, Little ended her life.


Former NASCAR driver Dick Trickle of North Carolina shot himself at age 71. He suffered from long-term pain under his left breast. Although he went through several medical tests to determine the cause of his pain, the results could not provide relief. After Trickle’s suicide, his brother stated that Dick “must have just decided the pain was too high, because he would have never done it for any other reason.”


39-year-old Julia Kelly committed suicide after suffering ongoing pain resulting from two car accidents. Kelly’s pain caused her to quit her job and move in with her parents, unable to start a family of her own. Her family is certain that the physical and emotional effects of her pain are what drove her to end her life. Kelly had founded a charity to help other chronic pain sufferers, an organization now run by her father in order to help others avoid Julia’s fate.


Sarah Kershaw ended her life at age 49. She was a New York Times Reporter who suffered from occipital neuralgia.


Lynn Gates Jackson, speaking for her friend E.C. who committed suicide after her long term opiates were suddenly reduced by 50% against her will, for no reason.  Lynn reports she felt like the doctors were not treating her like a human being (Ed:  a common complaint) and she made the conscious decision to end her life.


E.C. committed suicide quietly one day in Visalia California.  She was 40.  Her friend reported her death.  “She did not leave a note but I know what she did”.  The doctor would only write a prescription for 10 vicodin and she was in so much pain she could not get to the clinic every few days.   We had talked many times about quitting life. Then she left.  She just left.


Jessica, a patient with RSD/CRPS committed suicide when the pain from her disease became too much for her to bear. A friend asserted that Jessica’s death was not the result of an overdose, and that “living with RSD isn’t living.”


https://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/02/27/business/media/sarah-kershaw-former-times-reporter-dies-at-49.html?referer=https://t.co/qcSF8qOBp6?amp=1


http://www.news-press.com/story/news/crime/2014/09/08/death-investigation-at-groves-rv-park-in-fort-myers/15280035/


http://www.kpaddock.org/


https://m.facebook.com/FibroPrince/posts/948610075216801


http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=14073


http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=14574


http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=15023


http://linkis.com/painnewsnetwork.org/7IoUl


http://linkis.com/whotv.com/2016/11/10/ibRof


https://articles.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/12/alabama_pain_centers_troubles.amp


https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2016/12/22/chronic-pain-patient-abandoned-by-doctor-dies#.WFwJ5-Lk6Xg.twitter


http://linkis.com/painnewsnetwork.org/oKRZ5


http://linkis.com/www.seattletimes.com/tgyL7


https://edsinfo.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/%ef%bb%bfpain-and-suicide-the-other-side-of-the-opioid-story/amp/


http://www.bendbulletin.com/topics/5342867-151/opioid-crisis-pain-patients-pushed-to-the-brink


https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2017/5/26/patient-suicide-blamed-on-montana-pain-clinic


https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2016/5/27/are-cdcs-opioid-guidelines-causing-more-suicides?rq=suicide


http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/breaking/man-who-set-himself-on-fire-at-northfield-veterans-clinic/article_b7a4a712-f04e-11e5-a39b-3f42b9138511.amp.html


Aliff, Charles


Beyer, Donald Alan


Brunner, Robert “Bruin”


Graham, Bruce


Hale, Doug


Hartsgrove, Daniel P


Ingram III, Charles Richard


Kaisen, Peter


Keller, Kevin


Kershaw, Sarah


Kimberly, Allison


Little, Sherri


Mason, Bob


Miles, Richard


Murphy, Thomas


Paddock, Karon


Patterson, Travis “Patt”


Peck, Denny


Peterson, Michael Jay


Reid, Marsha


Somers, Daniel


Son, Randall Lee


Spece, Brian


Tombs, John


Trickle, Richard “Dick”


Trunzo, Ryan


Williams, Zack


Karen Shettler Paddock  committed suicide on August 7, 2013  http://www.kpaddock.org/


https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1616190951785852&set=a.395920107146282.94047.100001848876646&type=3&theater 

Jessica Simpson took her life July 2017


Mercedes McGuire took her life on Friday, August 4th. She leaves behind her 4 yr old son. She could no longer endure the physical & emotional pain from Trigeminal Neuralgia.


www.disabledveterans.org/2017/08/16/veteran-commits-suicide-front-amarillo-va-emergency-department/

Another Veteran Suicide In Front Of VA Emergency Department


 Depression and Pain makes me want to kill self. Too much physical and emotional pain to continue on. I seek the bliss fullness of Death. Peace. Live together die alone.


 Dr. Mansureh Irvani  suspected overdose victim  http://www.foxnews.com/health/2017/08/18/suspended-oral-surgeon-dies-suspected-overdose.html


Katherine Goddard’s Suicide note: Due to the pain we are both in and can’t get help, this is the only way we can see getting out of it. Goodbye to everybody,”   https://www.cbsnews.com/news/florida-man-arrested-after-girlfriend-dies-during-alleged-suicide-pact/  


Steven Lichtenberg: the 32-year-old Dublin man shot himself   http://www.dispatch.com/news/20160904/chronic-pains-emotional-toll-can-lead-to-suicide  


Fred Sinclair  he was hurting very much and was, in effect, saying goodbye to the family.  http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=21743


 

District attorney: Marijuana laced with fentanyl is in Tennessee

Image result for marijuana laced with fentanylDistrict attorney: Marijuana laced with fentanyl is in Tennessee

TIME TO START GROWING YOUR OWN ?

District attorney: Marijuana laced with fentanyl is in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Tennessee District Attorney is offering a warning about a new, deadly mix of drugs – marijuana mixed with fentanyl.

DA Matthew Stowe told News 2 the drug is here in Tennessee and he can’t warn people fast enough.

“It’s absolutely being seen in Tennessee. It’s being seen in West Tennessee, it’s coming in in vast, vast quantities,” he said.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid used in medical settings to treat chronic pain. On the street, it takes just a small amount for someone to overdose within minutes.

“It is very easy to move,” Stowe said. “It is very easy to transport and it’s hard to detect.”

He continued, “There are some marijuana dealers that will tell their clients that I have no doubt there is fentanyl in it and some of the more addictive folks, especially folks that also use other drugs, will get that marijuana laced with fentanyl in hopes of getting a better high.”

The district attorney told News 2 there is no way for someone on the street to know if the marijuana is laced.

“The bottom line is, anyone, anywhere could mix fentanyl and marijuana and there’s no way of knowing it until it’s too late,” Stowe warned.

Since fentanyl is so powerful, Stowe said that marijuana laced with it could kill more than just the user.

“Marijuana laced with fentanyl can be extremely deadly and to anyone who touches it, taste it, smokes it [or] anything else of that nature,” he explained. “If it’s laced with fentanyl, marijuana can be the deadliest drug there is.”

Stowe said agents have recovered the deadly mix of drugs from busts throughout Tennessee.

“I wanted to get an alert out right away,” Stowe said. “I didn’t want the community to have their first notice that we have this problem be someone’s child in the morgue.”

He continued, “Parents just need to know how deadly this is. Someone with marijuana laced with fentanyl could light up that joint, and not only would they be dead, but everyone who’s been around it inhaling the smoke could be dead as well in a matter of minutes.”

The dangerous mix of drugs has also caught the attention of the Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security. The office confirmed fentanyl laced with marijuana is a concerning trend it’s starting to see.

News 2 also reached out to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The agency said so far, no cases of marijuana mixed with fentanyl have been found.

Denial of care/pain management is international ?

Father took his own life after years of suffering from back pain, inquest rules

http://www.knutsfordguardian.co.uk/news/15488184.Father_took_his_own_life_after_years_of_suffering_from_back_pain__inquest_rules/

A KNUTSFORD man who suffered decades of back pain took his own life with painkillers, an inquest has concluded.

Former baggage handler, Fred Sinclair, 67, was found dead in bed at his home at Longridge on February 22.

The inquest in Warrington on Monday heard that Mr Sinclair had been retired from his job because of the back pain.

His GP Tim Mallon told the inquest: “He wasn’t suicidal. I think he was rather frustrated and a bit angry at retiring at 45 with a bad back and it was hard for him to take.”

Dr Mallon told the inquest that to help relieve the pain Mr Sinclair had been taking Co-proxamol, but due to his prevailing heart condition, he had warned him of the dangers of overdosing.

The drug itself was withdrawn from general prescription because of its toxicity, but its removal left Mr Sinclair with the loss of what he believed to be the only effective drug to treat his pain, the inquest heard.

Dr Mallon added: “Over the years we have struggled to find other painkillers that were hitting the spot in dealing with the pain in his back.”

The last prescription he had for the drug was in March 2011.

His son Anthony told the inquest that his father was a proud man who would never have wanted to end up in a wheelchair.

“He wanted his distalgesic (Co-proxamol) back because he was in a lot of pain,” he said.

Anthony said that after his father’s death, two emails were found on his electronic tablet, which, in hindsight, indicated that he was hurting very much and was, in effect, saying goodbye to the family.

PC Andrew Walker had earlier told the inquest that the box of Co-proxamol, which had been prescribed in 2011, was found at the bedside.

West Lancashire coroner Claire Hammond said the cause of his death was “suicide as the result of an old prescription of Co-proxamol, with underlying heart disease, which had also contributed to his death”.

Government’s role in opioid crisis deserves review

Government’s role in opioid crisis deserves review

http://newsok.com/article/5560720

AS states grapple with increasing opioid abuse, policymakers would do well to consider if government has inadvertently played a role in fueling addiction. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has gathered evidence suggesting this may be the case.

In a recent letter to the Health and Human Services inspector general, Johnson noted that opioid problems appeared much worse from 2013 to 2015 in states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act than those that didn’t, based on Census data and statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Maine, which didn’t expand Medicaid, there was a 55 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths. In nearby New Hampshire, which did expand Medicaid, there was a 108 percent increase. In Maryland, an expansion state, the rate surged 44 percent, but just 22 percent in non-expansion Virginia. In Medicaid-expanded Ohio, overdoses increased 41 percent, compared to 3 percent in Wisconsin, which didn’t expand its program.

Overall, overdose deaths per million residents increased twice as fast in Medicaid expansion states than in non-expansion states.

Correlation doesn’t automatically equal causation, but Johnson provides reason to think it exists in this case. Based on police comments, he reports someone with a Medicaid card can obtain up to 240 oxycodone pills for as little as a $1 co-pay. Those pills can then be resold for $4,000 on the black market.

It’s not unreasonable to think some people will exploit the system for fast cash, especially since others (taxpayers) foot almost all up-front costs.

Oklahoma is not among the Medicaid expansion states, and opioid abuse, while a major problem, isn’t as common here as in many other states — at least for now. But there have been Oklahoma cases that lend credence to Johnson’s theory.

In 2015, state authorities raided a south Oklahoma City pain clinic, Aria Orthopedics. Physician Harvey Jenkins and five former employees were eventually charged with Medicaid fraud and various drug offenses. Prosecutors called the Harvard-educated Jenkins “a drug dealer with a prescription pad.”

Jenkins had served hundreds of Medicaid patients. Prosecutors said he was known for writing large prescriptions and doing little to prevent diversion of narcotics, mainly opioid painkillers. A former clinic employee told investigators the clinic served “between 60 and 115 patients” every day.

Proponents of Medicaid expansion were quick to shrug off Johnson’s findings, and many countered that Medicaid expansion also pays for some people to obtain addiction treatment. The latter is true, but that doesn’t negate potential abuse of the system.

We’ve long supported efforts to require doctors to check the state’s prescription drug database every time they prescribe highly addictive drugs. Current law requires Oklahoma doctors to check it only on a patient’s first visit and then every 180 days thereafter. Imposing an every-time requirement would certainly be appropriate any time a doctor serves a Medicaid patient who is using taxpayer funds. There are likely other safeguards worth implementing.

Johnson’s observations justify careful review and reconsideration of state law. Policymakers in Oklahoma and elsewhere should take this critique seriously. State officials must ensure the expenditure of Medicaid dollars generates improved health outcomes, not an addiction crisis.

The Right Prescription Never Let an Opioid Crisis Go to Waste

www.spectator.org/never-let-an-opioid-crisis-go-to-waste/

When the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis advised the President to declare a national emergency to deal with the overdose epidemic, HHS Secretary Tom Price wisely suggested that this step wouldn’t be particularly useful: “[T]he opioid crisis at this point can be addressed without the declaration of an emergency.” Price is, of course, a physician who understands the public health implications of opioid addiction. He is also a former congressman who knows what kind of mischief the federal government gets up to when “solving” a crisis. Price was in Congress when the “uninsured crisis” spawned Obamacare.

Sadly, President Trump listened to less sagacious counsel and declared an emergency after all. If the White House and Congress follow the other bad advice offered in the commission’s interim report, they will produce another disaster for doctors and patients while exacerbating the problem they ostensibly wish to resolve. The most pernicious recommendation offered by the commission involves what the report dubs “prescriber education.” It calls for doctors, dentists, and every other provider with a prescription pad to suffer through mandatory courses — under the watchful eye of the Drug Enforcement Administration — to learn the “proper” way to treat pain:

Mandate medical education training in opioid prescribing and risks of developing an SUD by amending the Controlled Substance Act to require all Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registrants to take a course in proper treatment of pain. HHS should work with partners to ensure additional training opportunities.

The primary result of this ill-conceived recommendation will be far fewer prescriptions for all types of medication. But isn’t the problem caused by too many doctors writing too many prescriptions? Nope. The authors of the interim report claim, “We have an enormous problem that is often not beginning on street corners; it is starting in doctor’s offices and hospitals in every state in our nation.” In order to reach this preposterous conclusion, the commission had to studiously ignore a widely-documented decline in the number of opioid prescriptions that began at least seven years ago. In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported:

From 2010 to 2015, the amount of opioids prescribed in the United States decreased from 782 to 640 MME per capita.… Nationally, opioid prescribing rates leveled off from 2010 to 2012, and then decreased by 13.1% from 2012 to 2015.

Despite this decrease in opioid prescribing rates, mandatory education and increased DEA surveillance will soon render providers wary of prescribing any kind of controlled substance. Doctors will be so afraid of violating DEA rules that they will err on the side of caution. Patients with no history of, or predisposition toward, addiction will suffer needlessly because lazy politicians on a presidential commission have eschewed critical thinking and embraced hyperbole. Ironically, most controlled substances are neither narcotic nor addictive, and few patients are in any real risk of addiction. As geriatric specialist Thomas F. Kline, M.D. writes:

 

Out of 100 people taking pain medicine, only a very few, perhaps three or four, will develop an addiction. Restricting pain medicine in the other 97 is not good medical practice.… Deaths from narcotic overdoses usually involve multiple, non-prescribed, street drugs, not pain medicines prescribed by caring doctors.

But the report rejects dull reality in favor of sensational factoids: “The average American would likely be shocked to know that drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined.” The average American won’t be “shocked” to learn that this is hopelessly misleading. To support their claim, the commission lumps together deaths involving all drugs, including heroin and cocaine, and fails to differentiate between overdoses and deaths resulting from the ingestion of multiple contraindicated drugs. Finally, the commission ignores the role government has played in creating the “crisis.” Which brings us to its second worst recommendation:

Grant waiver approvals for all 50 states to quickly eliminate barriers to treatment resulting from the federal Institutes for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion within the Medicaid program. This will immediately open treatment to thousands of Americans in existing facilities in all 50 states.

This seems innocuous enough, at first glance, but disturbing data have emerged suggesting Medicaid is no panacea for this “epidemic.” Indeed, the program may well be driving the dramatic increase in opioid overdoses. A key provision of Obamacare involved coercing states into expanding Medicaid to able-bodied adults. The Supreme Court ruled that provision unconstitutional in 2012, permitting states to opt out of expansion. Since then, 19 states have done just that. What has all this to do with opioids? It turns out that the very real spike in overdoses seen in the Medicaid expansion states is absent from those 19 states. As Jon Cassidy wrote in this space in June:

Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and individual insurance exchanges both went into effect in 2014. In just the next year, the fatal opioid overdose rate increased by 15.6 percent, CDC found.… The increase isn’t uniform. It’s clearly happening in 30 states, most of which accepted the Medicaid expansion. But overdose deaths have remained steady in 19 other states, according to the CDC.

How the commission missed the Medicaid connection is a mystery. Even the establishment media have taken notice. A headline in the Hill, for example, drew attention to the relationship thus: “Want to end the opioid epidemic? Start by freezing Medicaid expansion.” The author of that piece, Sam Adolphsen, points out that a patient covered by the program is 6 times more likely to die of an opioid-related death than someone with decent coverage. Adolphsen also points out that the Medicaid expansion in which Ohio governor John Kasich takes such pride has his state “on track to have more overdose deaths in 2017 than the entire United States had in 1990.”

All of this is lost on the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Chairman Chris Christie and its other members clearly believe that government meddling will end the “epidemic.” The rest of their recommendations all involve increased federal surveillance of doctors and patients, throwing taxpayer money at failed programs, and adding to the regulatory morass that is already killing our health care system. Before President Trump and Congress take further action based on the commission’s advice, they would do well to remember Ronald Reagan’s admonition about the nine most terrifying words in the English language.

 

The kind of “help” offered by Governor Christie and his accomplices on the commission is exactly what Reagan found terrifying. It will give government more power over patients and doctors while making the “crisis” worse. Here’s a novel idea: How about getting together a few actual physicians, people who actually treat actual patients, and see what they suggest? We have had a lot of government help during the last eight or so years. Do we really want MORE?

 

More FACTOIDS and FAKE NEWS about the HEROIN EPIDEMIC

Analysis: Meet the opioid wholesalers who became middlemen for the heroin epidemic

http://www.wcpo.com/news/opinion/analysis-cities-counties-states-target-opioid-wholesalers-over-the-heroin-epidemic

This article is part of the WCPO.com project “Heroin: How Do We Respond?”

You can view the I-Team story tonight on WCPO 9 On Your Side at 6 p.m.

As the nation’s opioid addiction grew out of control in the five years between 2007 and 2012, one Cincinnati company sold more than 4 million doses of highly addictive prescription pain pills to one county.

A county of only 200,000 people.

Omnicare, a big supplier of drugs to pharmacies, hospitals and nursing homes, is one of at least five Cincinnati-area companies now in the sights of states and counties fighting back against the opioid epidemic that is killing their residents, draining their budgets and stretching their resources to the breaking point

These companies played a key role in the epidemic, shipping millions of doses of addictive narcotics around the country, including to doctors’ offices and pain clinics that became known as “pill mills,” the lawsuits say.

Omnicare and other pharmaceutical wholesalers typically conducted business behind the scenes, supplying retail drug stores, hospitals and nursing homes with the pharmaceuticals they order for their patients and customers. But the tsunami of pain pills that washed over the country and, in particular, here in the nation’s heartland, would not have happened without their participation.

They are, essentially, drug dealers, selling prescription narcotics that are chemically akin to heroin and doing it on a massive scale. Whether they did so legally or not is the question.

A growing number of cities, counties and states claim they haven’t and are suing these drug middlemen, saying they precipitated the heroin and opioid epidemic that has cost so many lives and damaged so many others.

Many people began their journey into addiction with pain pills such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, which they often acquired from disreputable doctors or pain clinics. But when the street price of the pills became too high and states cracked down on the pill mills, many of the addicted turned to heroin, which was cheaper and even easier to get.

Five Cincinnati-area companies sued

On Tuesday, the city of Cincinnati became the latest jurisdiction to sue pain pill wholesalers when it targeted three major ones — Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp. and AmerisourceBergen. A day later, Hamilton County agreed to join that lawsuit.

In July, Clermont County declared the opioid epidemic a public nuisance and sued the same three wholesalers. Five other Southern Ohio counties, including Brown and Adams, have joined that lawsuit.

The state of Kentucky says it plans to sue distributors, and the state of Ohio is considering doing the same.

The Omnicare sales figures come from a lawsuit filed in March by the commissioners of Kanawha County, West Virginia, the home of that state’s capitol, Charleston.

It names 16 distributors, including five from the Cincinnati region: Omnicare, Kroger, Springboro-based Miami-Luken, Masters Pharmaceutical Inc. and Blue Ash-based Keysource Medical Inc.

All the companies are part of a previously obscure link in the chain that supplied doctor’s offices and consumers with pain medicine, and led — many experts agree — to addiction and heroin.

Carol Wagner’s son, Chad, died of a heroin overdose at the age of 37. His addiction started with the painkillers Oxycontin and Vicodin, which a doctor prescribed for his carpal tunnel syndrome.

Chad Wagner

“He was a wonderful kid,” said Carol, who lives in Fort Mitchell. “He went to the University of Kentucky, he played ice hockey for the university. He was handsome, he was charismatic, he was hard-working. He was all the things you would want in a child.”

By the time he overdosed and died in a Cincinnati halfway house on May 20, 2005, he had lost his marriage, his home and had filed for bankruptcy because of his addiction.

His mother says drug wholesalers and others should answer for the drug epidemic.

“We are in an opioid crisis,” she said. “People are dying. They need to be held accountable.”

But holding them accountable is not always easy.

At least two local wholesalers years ago attracted the attention of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which tried to shut them down.

One, Masters Pharmaceutical, has been under investigation by the DEA for nearly 10 years.

In 2008, the agency threatened to revoke the company’s license to sell controlled substances such as pain pills, saying it violated the law by selling the powerful narcotic hydrocodone to “rogue Internet pharmacies.”

Masters employees should have known that those orders were suspicious, the DEA said.

The company reached a settlement with the DEA, but by 2013, the feds again threatened to revoke its license. Employees were still failing to detect and report suspicious orders of oxycodone, better known by brand names Oxycontin and Percocet, it said. The company had filled orders of millions of doses of those drugs to eight “illegitimate pharmacies” in Florida and Nevada, the DEA argued.

Prescription OxyContin was widely diverted, sold on the streets and abused.

Federal regulations require wholesalers to report to the DEA suspicious orders of narcotics. These can include orders that are unusually large or are made too often. The agency requires the wholesaler to investigate suspicious orders and refuse to fill them if they are suspect.

But “Masters employees frequently simply brushed suspicion under the rug by deleting orders or paring them down and shipping them without reporting them to DEA,” federal judge Susan Dlott ruled in a 2011 lawsuit.

Masters employees also accepted “half-baked or implausible explanations its customers supplied,” the judge wrote.

Still selling, even as DEA investigates

Masters has fought the DEA’s enforcement at every step and continued to sell opiates while its case has been under appeal. The company operates distribution centers in Fairfield and Forest Park. Last week, a federal appeals court judge in Washington, D.C. ruled against the company, clearing the way for the DEA to suspend its license.

But the company will stay in business because the DEA approved a license for a new Masters facility in Mason in December 2016, even as the previous case worked its way through appeals.

Keysource Medical is a relatively small, independent drug supplier operating out of just one facility in Blue Ash. But DEA investigators paint a portrait of a company that played an outsized role in the pain pill wave that inundated the country.

Keysource specialized in generic hydrocodone and oxycodone, which the DEA calls the most widely abused pills in the country. Although it is a relatively small supplier, Keysource became one of the top wholesalers of pain pills to Florida pharmacies, the DEA said.

In a two-year period, Keysource sold more than 59 million doses of oxycodone to customers in 40 states, the DEA said. The vast majority of that — 78 percent — was sold to pharmacies in Florida, which was known as a haven for pill mills, the DEA said.

Some of those pills made their way back to Ohio and Kentucky via what DEA officials called the “Florida Pipeline” or the “Oxycontin Express.” Drug traffickers would hire people to drive to pill mills in Florida every two weeks or so, buy oxycodone for $40 a bottle, drive it back to Ohio or Kentucky and sell it on the black market for $1,500 a bottle, according to a DEA narrative.

A pharmacy raided by the DEA in Miami, Fla. in 2011. The “Florida Pipeline” stretched from Ohio and Kentucky to pain clinics like this in Florida, where narcotics were illegally bought and brought back to the Midwest, the DEA says. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In 2011, the DEA raided Keysource’s Blue Ash office and seized sales records, emails and letters. It suspended the company’s license to sell narcotics “to stop KMI from adding any more fuel to the flame of what is an imminent and serious public health problem.”

Keysource “was sending tens of millions of pills of oxycodone into Florida, the national epicenter of the pill problem,” a DEA investigator said in court documents.

The company “was the number one independent distributor in the country for sales of oxycodone in 2010 and in the first three months of 2011,” the investigator said. “No other single-facility distributor distributed more oxycodone during that period.”

 

 

Like Masters Pharmaceutical, Keysource and its employees are accused of manipulating records to hide unusually large orders from pill mills.

Keysource Medical in Blue Ash Wholesaler-supplied pill mills were the drug dealers for many like Amy Parker, who got addicted and then turned to heroin after first being prescribed narcotics by a doctor.

 

More than 10 years ago, Amy saw a doctor in Hamilton for back and knee pain. After waiting hours to see him — a line of patients stretched down Route 4, she says — he prescribed her the powerful painkillers Opana and Oxycontin in an appointment that lasted just minutes. She ended up addicted, and when she could no longer get the pills, she turned to heroin.

Amy, who lives in West Chester now, survived pain pills and heroin and has been in recovery for nearly five years.

 

Amy Parker

Many more have not survived.nIn Ohio alone, at least 19,449 people died from drug overdoses between 2005 and 2015.

 

Who is ‘financially responsible’?

Now, cities, counties and states in need of money to clean up the ongoing carnage are suing these companies, accusing them of knowingly fostering the gross overprescription of painkillers. And they are seeking compensation.

“These community-based problems require community-based solutions which have been limited by budgetary constraints at the state and federal levels,” the West Virginia lawsuit says. Cincinnati wants to hold the distributors “financially responsible for … the hazards to public health and safety” they caused.

Both Cincinnati and Clermont County officials are seeking damages to compensate for the costs of medical care for overdose patients, the costs for treatment and rehab, costs for babies born addicted and increased costs of law enforcement. They’re also seeking punitive damages.

The Cincinnati-area distributors had little to say about the lawsuits or the DEA actions.

Keysource Medical’s CEO, Todd Szewc, would not comment on the lawsuit or the DEA action.

An attorney for Masters Pharmaceutical did not comment on the charges, but emailed briefs filed by three pharmaceutical trade associations that said the DEA changed its reporting requirements without enough notice.

Omnicare is now owned by pharmacy giant CVS. An official there said, “We believe the allegations have no merit.” She also emailed a general statement that said “CVS Health is committed to the highest standards of ethics and business practices, including complying with all federal and state laws governing the dispensing of controlled substance prescriptions, and is dedicated to reducing prescription drug abuse and diversion.”

Kroger would not comment or even provide information about its affiliates that supplied its pharmacies.

Miami-Luken declined to comment.

Although these lawsuits have the potential to bring milions to budget-strapped communities, it’s unlikely they will be settled anytime soon. Attorneys expect such cases to last about two years.

.This is a good example of a author writing and not researching accurate background information. This author is claiming that OMNICARE is part of the opiate epidemic, however, Omnicare only services institutional pts ( Nursing homes and the like) where if medication are not sent to the facility to conform to the prescriber’s orders… the nursing home is at risk of being cited by the state for failing to follow prescriber’s orders and PT NEGLECT.

Pts in these facilities DO NOT have access to their medication. They are provided to the pt per the prescriber’s medication orders.

Many of the pts in these facilities are in “skilled beds” which means that they are “high acuity pts” and require care similar to what is found/provided in a hospital.  They tend to be very sick and require multiple medications.

The end of my pharmacy career was working in a Omnicare pharmacy… for about 6 yrs.  I am very familiar with the LTC pharmacy operation.

When your healthcare boils down to nothing but $$$$

A Medicaid patient lost the care he’d received for 20 years. 3 months later, he was dead.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/investigations/2017/08/13/medicaid-patient-lost-care-hed-received-20-years-3-months-later-he-dead/488367001/

ORANGE CITY, Ia. — Thirty-two years ago, a vehicle accident left Todd Mouw a quadriplegic, unable to feed himself and needing a ventilator to breathe.

Yet for decades he was able to live at home with the help of family, aided by medical staff who visited him daily to help provide 24-hour care.

That care abruptly ended when a for-profit company that Iowa hired last year to manage the state’s Medicaid program announced that some of the staffers who had attended to Mouw all those years weren’t qualified, and it wouldn’t pay for the cost.

As he and his wife Cyndi futilely searched for qualified help, Todd’s health dissipated. He had to leave his home for care, and on July 8 he died at age 53. 

Now, Cyndi Mouw is speaking out, blaming her husband’s death on Iowa’s decision to turn over its Medicaid program to for-profit companies she believes are unilaterally denying or revoking medical services to potentially thousands of other disabled or elderly Iowans.

 

“If they’re trying to do this because they need to save money? Well, find other places,” Cyndi Mouw said. “And, yeah, I’m sure he’s not the only one.”

Her criticisms have echoed those of other families who complain that the private companies now managing the state’s Medicaid program are denying care that the state once approved.

And the state’s long-term care ombudsman said she has received hundreds of complaints from Medicaid recipients who are appealing decisions of the private managers hired by the state.

A lack of care

Todd Mouw’s problems began in March.

That’s when Amerigroup, one of three companies hired in 2016 to manage Iowa’s Medicaid program, notified the family that it was terminating a longtime waiver that allowed some of Mouw’s in-home workers to assist in such tasks as tracheostomy care.

 

Although some of the health provider firms and their employees had for nearly two decades provided Mouw’s care and equipment, Amerigroup said they no longer considered the workers qualified.

Amerigroup instead required registered nurses to provide some of the services that had for years been provided by home-health aides.

The requirement for higher-qualified staffing left the family scrambling for months to find workers Amerigroup would approve for payment.

When Cyndi Mouw thought she had identified potentially qualified workers, she said weeks of administrative delays resulted in repeated missed care for her husband.

In the months that followed, Todd Mouw would sometimes go unsupervised because no staff had been approved to provide care for him, Cyndi Mouw said.

When she had to go to work, she would monitor her cellphone in case her husband alerted her to an emergency care issue.

 

Several times, she said, she found her husband nearly unresponsive because the passageway of his trachea tubes needed to be cleared of mucus buildup. 

“When I got the calls, I’d put on my hazard lights and I’d fly home,” she said, describing calls where all she could hear were the background sounds of his vent alarm system blaring warnings about her husband’s dropping oxygen levels.

“There were a couple times when he was blue when I got home. But we had no other option.”

In May, Todd Mouw developed pneumonia and was hospitalized.

Although he initially improved, he was never able to return home for lack of in-home workers.

Instead, he was sent to a facility in Sioux Falls, S.D., that specialized in respiratory ailments. He died at the facility about six weeks after he arrived.

Cyndi Mouw said her husband was happier at home. She believes he was provided better care there because his longtime workers were acutely aware of his needs.

“I do believe with all my heart this could have been prevented,” Cyndi Mouw said of Todd’s death.

Complaints, lawsuit follow Iowa’s money-saving plan 

Iowa’s government for decades had managed the state’s Medicaid program, which serves more than 568,000 poor or elderly Iowans. 

That changed last year when then-Gov. Terry Branstad decided to move the state’s Medicaid management to three private companies, saying health care would improve and the state would save tens of millions of dollars each year. The companies help decide which health procedures Medicaid will pay for.

Three companies — AmeriHealth, UnitedHealthcare and Amerigroup — began managing the program in April 2016. The three companies were paid $1,041 to $3,313 a month for each Medicaid patient they oversaw.

Since then, hundreds of Iowans have logged complaints, many saying the companies have unfairly denied access to care.

 

In June, six Iowans with disabilities filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Kim Reynolds, accusing the state of depriving thousands of Iowans that are part of the $4 billion program the legal right to live safely outside of care facilities.

Iowa’s Medicaid system had for years granted hundreds of “exceptions to policy” that allowed people like Todd Mouw flexibility to hire specialized care and — in some cases — spend more money than is allowed for a standard Medicaid patient. 

But under management by the for-profit companies, those exceptions disappeared.

Medicaid recipients can challenge the companies’ decisions. And in hundreds of cases, recipients have sought help to resolve the disputes from the state’s long-term care ombudsman — an independent agency within the Iowa Department on Aging that investigates complaints. 

Todd Mouw’s death is significant because he is an example of a disabled Iowan who had to be institutionalized following a for-profit company’s decision, said Deanna Clingan-Fischer, the state’s long-term care ombudsman. Mouw had contacted her office weeks before his death.

Clingan-Fischer said her office doesn’t know the number of people it has helped who were institutionalized because of a decision by one of the private companies. It’s part of a larger issue of reported service deficiencies that her staff finds concerning.

 

“It’s unfortunate they couldn’t maintain his level of care,” Clingan-Fischer said of Mouw, noting her office is no longer reviewing the case because of his death.

Serious claims have also been made against the companies in other states.

Multiple health providers claim in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court that WellPoint, which is a part of Amerigroup, orchestrated a scheme to reduce reimbursement payments. Portions of the lawsuit, first filed in 2009, have been dismissed, but others are still being litigated.

Among the plaintiffs are medical groups from California, Connecticut and Georgia.

UnitedHealthcare, in turn, is accused of using illegal and deceptive practices to deny or limit treatment for patients with mental illness, according to a class-action lawsuit filed by the New York State Psychiatric Association.

A Des Moines Register investigation in 2015 found that each of the three managed-care companies operating in Iowa has been accused in other states of serious service and administrative errors, including denial of medical services to poor residents.

 

The Register documented hundreds of millions of dollars in fines or settlements and more than 1,500 individual sanctions in the past five years against the companies.

Companies say they’re helping people

Starting in July, the Register made multiple attempts to ask Amerigroup representatives questions about Todd Mouw’s case. 

Cyndi Mouw signed waiver forms requested by Amerigroup to allow the company to speak about her husband’s care.

But on July 31, Amerigroup said it additionally needed records showing Cyndi Mouw as the executor of her husband’s estate. Cyndi Mouw said she had no need to be appointed executor, since her husband had no assets, and she couldn’t afford the court costs.

 An Amerigroup employee assigned to work with the family did make several attempts to help resolve the issues linked to her husband’s care, Cyndi Mouw said. She is left uncertain whether the problems lie mostly with Amerigroup or the state. 

Amerigroup spokeswoman Denise Malecki said other members would testify that they wouldn’t have been able to obtain the health services they needed if it wasn’t for her company.

“It has seemed as if distaste for the new Iowa Medicaid managed-care program is the popular opinion, but we are seeing otherwise,” Malecki said. “There are a lot of people who have been helped and willing to share their stories to let others know that help is available.”

The Register requested the names and contact information of the people Malecki referenced. She did not respond.

Earlier this month, Gov. Reynolds released a statement noting Iowa Medicaid patients’ satisfaction was ranked among the highest in the nation, according to a J.D. Power survey conducted in July.

“Medicaid modernization improves access, gives patients more choices and brings accountability to the program,” Reynolds said in her statement.

J.D. Power declined to identify who paid the company to use its survey results. Brenna Smith, a spokeswoman for Reynolds, said it wasn’t the state.

Community living vs. institutions

Department of Human Services spokeswoman Amy McCoy said she couldn’t speak to specifics about Mouw’s case, partly because of the pending class-action litigation filed against the state by the advocacy group Disability Rights Iowa.

 

But McCoy said “cost neutrality” plays a part in Medicaid care decisions.

The term is used to describe federal rules that say the aggregate cost of providing healthcare to a Medicaid member will not exceed the cost of an institutional placement.  

In other words: If it’s cheaper to institutionalize a person, that’s generally the care that must be provided.

“Our goal is to successfully and appropriately serve Iowans with mental health and disability needs in the least restrictive setting possible while remaining good stewards of taxpayer resources,” McCoy said.

Cyndy Miller, an attorney for Disability Rights Iowa, said McCoy’s response does not consider federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Olmstead mandate.

That’s a law and a court ruling that have determined that people with disabilities have a right to live in the community, rather than in institutions.

Miller said there are questions about data the state uses to calculate “average aggregate costs,” specifically whether the data is too old to properly set rates.

“Institutionalization has been increasingly disfavored by the courts, giving states a greater incentive to pursue waivers and keep individuals with disabilities in their communities,” Miller said.

 

Cyndi Mouw hasn’t reviewed all their bills, but she said she’s confident her husband’s care was far cheaper at home than in the long-term hospitalized setting he lived in during the last weeks of his life.

Mouw said her goal is not to file a lawsuit or make Amerigroup and the state look bad. Rather, she said, she wants her husband’s death to serve as a wake-up call about serious problems in Iowa’s privately managed Medicaid system.

She recalled her husband’s “food ministry,” in which he planned meals and directed his family to regularly cook and serve needy families in his community.

“Don’t get me wrong, his death was inevitable,” Mouw said. “But I do believe with all my heart this could have been prevented and he would have lived longer.”

Approximately 112 million adults (abt 50% of adult pop) have tried cannabis at least once

A Record Number of Americans Have Tried Marijuana, New Survey Shows

https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/08/20/a-record-number-of-americans-have-tried-marijuana.aspx

Marijuana: it was once a taboo topic, but is no longer.

According to a newly released study from national pollster Gallup, more Americans than ever have tried marijuana.

Gallup has been sporadically asking Americans if they had tried cannabis over the past 48 years. Back in 1969, just 4% of respondents claimed to have tried the drug. By 1999, just a few years after California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis for compassionate use, about a third (34%) of respondents had claimed to have tried marijuana before. However, between the mid-1980s and 2010, this figure was essentially static, give or take a few percent. According to Gallup’s July 2017 survey, 45% of Americans have now tried marijuana, an all-time high. If Gallup’s profile is consistent with that of America, then, utilizing data from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2016, more than 112 million adults have tried marijuana at least once in their lives.

A person rolling a cannabis joint.

Image source: Getty Images.

Along those same lines, Gallup also asked its respondents if they were current marijuana users. In 2013, just 7% affirmed that they used marijuana on a somewhat regular basis. However, in the 2017 poll, 12%, or roughly one out of eight Americans, admitted to regularly smoking cannabis. Interestingly, this was down 1% from 2016, albeit still well within the standard margins for error in polling.

Five likely reasons why more Americans than ever are trying marijuana

So, this begets the question: Why are more people experimenting with marijuana than ever before? The answer probably lies with a confluence of factors.

For starters, we’ve witnessed a notable shift in the way the American public views marijuana over the past two decades. Gallup, which has also polled Americans on their views regarding legalization for the past 48 years, has shown that favorability toward legalization has soared recently. After just 25% of the public favored its nationwide legalization in 1995, 60% were in support of such a move in its 2016 survey, an all-time high. 

The expansion of medical cannabis and recreational weed in select U.S. states, along with the end of the war on drugs, has also likely encouraged experimentation with the drug. Since 1996, 29 states have legalized medical cannabis, including Ohio and Pennsylvania last year, which did so entirely through the legislative process (i.e., without putting the measure on a ballot for residents to vote on). Eight states have legalized recreational weed since November 2012. Expansion gives Americans a legal means to try pot or, in rarer instances, become a regular legal consumer.

A hemp farmer pruning a plant.

Image source: Getty Images.

Select state governments could also be behind higher experimentation rates. It’s no secret that certain states struggle to balance their budgets, thusly legal cannabis acts as a new stream of tax revenue and fees that can help close or ebb budget deficits. States like Nevada, which only recently opened their doors to recreational marijuana, are counting on tax revenue from the sale of legal weed in order to make ends meet.

We can probably also point to politicians for increasing the experimentation rate. Even though marijuana is entirely illegal at the federal level, this past November was the first presidential election cycle where marijuana was a mainstream topic for the candidates. It cemented the idea that pot was no longer a taboo topic that could be avoided by our nation’s lawmakers.

Lastly, the advancement of medical cannabis and cannabinoid-based drugs in clinical trials has probably cast a more favorable view on marijuana. GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GWPH) is attempting to bring the very first cannabis-derived drug to market next year. The cannabidiol-based oral drug, known as Epidiolex, breezed through multiple pivotal-stage studies in two rare types of childhood-onset epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Clinical studies from GW Pharmaceuticals, along with more informal research studies from universities, have painted a picture that suggests marijuana could be helpful, not harmful, in treating certain diseases.

Despite weed’s growing popularity, the federal government has dug in its heels

However, it’s also worth pointing out that in spite of more Americans than ever having tried marijuana, any chance for change in the federal government’s scheduling of the drug still seems to be a ways off.

Cannabis buds on a table sitting next to a judge's gavel.

Image source: Getty Images.

One issue is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is among the most ardent opponents of marijuana. It was uncovered in June that Sessions had sent congressional leaders a letter in May requesting that they repeal the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which protects legally operating cannabis businesses in legal states. In other words, Sessions requested permission from Congress to trample states’ rights and go after medical marijuana businesses.

Another issue is that Congress has far too much on its plate to concern itself with marijuana legislation. Republicans have been working on healthcare reform for more than five months, while tax reform talks have been progressing at a snail’s pace. Of the multitude of things that President Trump wants to accomplish as president, legalizing marijuana isn’t remotely on the list as of now.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is probably of little help, too. Last year, the DEA had an opportunity to review two petitions that requested the scheduling for marijuana be changed. The DEA declined to do so, citing a lack of clinical evidence on the benefits and risks of the drug, as well as a lack of proper usage oversight. 

There’s a Catch-22 as well. Most lawmakers, along with the DEA, want more clinical data to pore over in order to make an educated decision about weed’s scheduling. Unfortunately, its restrictive scheduling also makes running the studies that are needed very difficult. You could almost say that red tape is ensuring that marijuana remains an illegal substance.

A street sign that reads "Risk ahead."

Image source: Getty Images.

 

Investing in marijuana is a highly risky venture

Even with a record number of people experimenting with pot, and legal sales expected to grow by a double-digit percentage for the next five to 10 years, investing in marijuana stocks will remain a risky venture at best.

There are a number of concerns with marijuana companies that simply aren’t going away anytime soon. For example, weed companies have little or no access to basic banking services, such as a line of credit or even a checking account. This forces marijuana companies to deal solely with cash, which is a big security risk and an inhibitor of growth.

Also, the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t look too kindly on profitable pot companies. U.S. tax code 280E disallows businesses that sell an illegal substance, like marijuana, from taking normal corporate income tax deductions. Thus, if a weed business does turn a profit, it’s likely handing over far more in taxes than a “normal” business.

The result for most marijuana stocks is steady losses with no chance of really thriving until the federal government changes its stance on pot. Unfortunately, it’s unclear when, if ever, that’s going to happen.

 

Financial Investigator Supporting the DEA at Forfeiture Support Associates Portland, OR 97204 – WTF ?

Financial Investigator Supporting the DEA at Forfeiture Support Associates

Portland, OR 97204

http://job-openings.monster.com/Financial-Investigator-Supporting-the-DEA-Portland-OR-US-Forfeiture-Support-Associates/11/187550335

About the Job

FSA, a rapidly growing professional support services company delivering high-quality service in support of the Department of Justice (DOJ), has an immediate vacancy for a Financial Investigator to support DEA’s Office of Diversion Control (ODC), and the Diversion Control Program.


 


In this role, a Financial Investigator will:


    • Support a Federal law enforcement agency in the analysis of complex financial and business records to support federal diversion related investigations, prosecutions, and the seizure and forfeiture of illegally derived property.
    • Organize and conduct detailed examinations of information generated during complex financial criminal/civil investigations and information available through alternative sources for the purpose of conducting financial analyses of personal/business assets of targeted organizations/individuals.
    • Utilize information obtained as a result of the financial analysis and prepares documentation for use by law enforcement personnel pursuing civil and criminal matters.

A Financial Investigator must meet the following qualifications:


    • Bachelor’s Degree in any field
    • 5 years of criminal investigative experience, with minimum of 2 years of experience in financial investigations
    • Working knowledge of current financial investigation techniques
    • Skilled and capable in oral and written communications
    • Minimum of INTERIM SECRET Clearance


This position requires U.S. Citizenship and a 7 (or 10) year minimum background investigation. 

Forfeiture Support Associates (FSA), LLC is proud to be an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. We recruit, employ, train, compensate, and promote qualified persons in all job titles without regard to age, ancestry, color, gender, HIV status, marital status, medical condition, national origin, physical or mental disability, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation (including gender expression and identity), veteran status, family leave status or any protected group status as defined by applicable law.

Pharmacist quotes CDC guidelines as reason to deny pt’s pain meds

In her own words: a woman with constant pain is denied her meds

http://www.ktuu.com/content/news/In-her-own-words-a-woman-with-cronic-pain-is-denied-her-meds-441051633.html

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Cathy Therrien is a breast cancer survivor who’s undergone four surgeries and lives with constant pain.

She says her bones rub against each other and she relies on opioid based prescriptions to control her pain.

But, recently Therrien’s prescription was denied by several pharmacies.

Watch her story above about how the state’s opioid epidemic is impacting people’s ability to get the pills their doctors prescribe.

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