2017 in review … what killed us

Today is 05/20/2019.. who will not be here tomorrow

2016 in review … what killed us

6775 Americans will die EVERY DAY – from various reasons


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




Here is the list from the end of 2016 if interested in comparing
United States of America
from Jan 1, 2017 – Dec 31, 2017 (11:36:39 AM)

Abortion*: 1090465
Heart Disease: 613479
Cancer: 590862
Tobacco: 349505
Obesity: 306566
Medical Errors: 251098
Stroke: 132915
Lower Respiratory Disease: 142741
Accident (unintentional): 135861
Hospital Associated Infection: 98860
Alcohol: 99859
Diabetes: 76380
Alzheimer’s Disease: 93409
Influenza/Pneumonia: 55149
Kidney Failure: 42702
Blood Infection: 33417
Suicide: 42713
Drunk Driving: 33760
Unintentional Poisoning: 31713
All Drug Abuse: 24970
Homicide: 16775
Prescription Drug Overdose: 14979
Murder by gun: 11477
Texting while Driving: 5981
Pedestrian: 4993
Drowning: 3909
Fire Related: 3495
Malnutrition: 2768
Domestic Violence: 1458
Smoking in Bed: 779
Falling out of Bed: 598
Killed by Falling Tree: 149
Lawnmower: 68
Spontaneous Combustion: 0

Totals of all categories are based upon past trends documented below.



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 v 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.”



















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

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


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.


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

Robert Markel, 56 – June 2016 – Denied Pain Meds/Heroin OD  http://www.pennlive.com/opioid-crisis/2017/08/heroin_overdose_deaths.html

 Lisa June 2016  https://youtu.be/rBlrSyi_-rQ

Jay Lawrence  March 2017  https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2017/9/4/how-chronic-pain-killed-my-husband

Celisa Henning: killed herself and her twin daughters...http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Mom-in-Apparent-Joliet-Murder-Suicide-said-Body-Felt-Like-It-was-On-Fire-Grandma-Says-442353713.html?fb_action_ids=10213560297382698&fb_action_types=og.comments

Karen Boje-58  CPP-Deming, NM

Katherine Goddard, 52 –  June 30, 2017 – Palm Coast, FL -Suicide/Denied Opioids  http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20170816/palm-coast-man-charged-with-assisting-self-murder

https://medium.com/@ThomasKlineMD/suicides-associated-with-non-consented-opioid-pain-medication-reductions-356b4ef7e02aPartial List of Suicides, as of 9–10-17

Suicides: Associated with non-consented Opioid Pain Medication Reductions

Lacy Stewart 59, http://healthylivings247.com/daughter-says-untreated-pain-led-to-mothers-suicide/#

Ryan Trunzo of Massachusetts committed suicide at the age of 26  http://www.startribune.com/obituaries/detail/18881/?fullname=trunzo,-ryan-j  

Mercedes McGuire of Indiana ended her life August 4th, 2017 after struggling with agony originally suppressed with opioid pain medicine but reappearing after her pain medicine was cut back in a fashion after the CDC regulations. She was in such discomfort she went to the ER because she could not stand the intractable pain by “learning to live with it” as suggested by CDC consultants. The ER gave her a small prescription. She went to the pharmacy where they refused to fill it “because she had a pain contract”. She went home and killed herself. She was a young mother with a 4 year old son, Bentley. Bentley, will never get over the loss of his mom.

Suicides: Associated with non-consented Opioid Pain Medication Reductions

“Goodbye” Scott Smith: Vet w/PTSD committed murder/suicide. Killed his wife then himself today 11/27/2017


Pamela Clute had been suffering from agonizing back problems and medical treatment had failed to relieve pain that shot down her legs While California’s assisted suicide law went into effect a couple months before Clute’s death, the law only applies to terminally ill patients who are prescribed life-ending drugs by a physician. Clute wasn’t terminally ill

Kellie Bernsen 12/10/2017 Colorado suicide

Scott Smith: Vet w/PTSD committed murder/suicide. Killed his wife then himself today 11/27/2017

  Michelle Bloem committed suicide due to uncontrolled pain

John Lester shot himself on Jan. 8, 2014.

 Anne Örtegren took her life on Jan. 5  

 Debra Bales, 52 – Civilian – January 10, 2018 – Petaluma, CA – Denied Pain Meds/Suicide

 Aliff, Charles – Could not locate info!
He may be able to help! Charles Aliff – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009343944744…

Brunner, Robert – Could not locate info!

Cagle, Melvin – http://www.objectivezero.org/…/The-Veteran-Spring-Why-a…


Harold Hamilton – http://www.dispatch.com/…/chronic-pains-emotional-toll…

Hartgrove, Daniel – http://www.legacy.com/…/name/daniel-hartsgrove-obituary…

Ingram III, Charles – http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/…/article_b7a4a712…

Jarvis, Michael http://www.chicagotribune.com/…/ct-indiana-doctor…


Kevin Keller, 52 – US Navy – July 30, 2014 – Wytheville, VA

Kershaw, Sarah – https://mobile.nytimes.com/…/sarah-kershaw-former-times…

Kimberly, Allison http://feldmanmortuary.com/…/Allison…/obituary.html…

Lane, Keith – Timothy Shields
August 8, 2017 · Colon, MI I would like you too include Kieth Lane . US Army , Vietnam in country , combat wounded . He died recovering from ulcers surgery of a stroke and heart attack in Battle Creek VA medical center in Michigan .

Lichtenberg, Steven – http://www.dispatch.com/…/chronic-pains-emotional-toll…

Markel, Robert – http://www.pennlive.com/…/08/heroin_overdose_deaths.html

Miles, Richard – Could not locate info!

Murphy, Thomas – http://www.objectivezero.org/…/The-Veteran-Spring-Why-a…

Paddock, Karon http://www.kpaddock.com/

Denny Peck, 58 – Civilian – September 17,2016 – Seattle, Wa https://l.facebook.com/l.php…


Peterson, Michael – https://l.facebook.com/l.php…

Reid, Marsha – https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/…/daughter-blames…

Simpson, Jessica – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1616190951785852&set=a.395920107146282.94047.100001848876646&type=3&hc_location=ufi

Daniel Somers, 30 – US Army – June 10, 2013 – Denied Pain Meds/Suicide http://gawker.com/i-am-sorry-that-it-has-come-to-this-a…

Son, Randall – http://www.wpsdlocal6.com/…/woman-says-marion-va…/…

Bryan Spece, 54 – USMC – May 3, 2017 – Great Falls, Montana – Denied Meds/Suicide https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/…/patient-suicide…

Tombs, John – http://www.objectivezero.org/…/The-Veteran-Spring-Why-a…

 Jennifer E. Adams age 41 of Helena  December 20, 1976April 25, 2018


Addiction psychiatrist questions involuntary tapering of opioids


JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – A renowned author and addiction psychiatrist says the efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs and other institutions across the country to taper people off opioids without their consent is “an outrage.”

“To take a patient who’s doing well off of medication abruptly and without their permission is not unfair. I actually think it’s malpractice,”

Dr. Sally Satel said. “I think it is an outrage when you have a person who’s doing well on a dose of medication, highly functional and their pain is under good control. This is what you want. This is the clinical outcome.”

Dr. Satel is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a lecturer at Yale University. She’s a vocal opponent of the involuntary tapering of controlled opioids.

“It shouldn’t be done without their permission,” she said. “Without the patient’s consent, the results are often disasterous.”

Mountain Home VA Medical Center is prescribing half as many opioids as it did in 2012, according to recently released federal data. Since December 2016, several veterans have voiced their frustration over what they’ve said is a mandate to taper their pain medications.

Dr. Satel says many institutions have misinterpreted the Centers for Disease Control’s pain management guidelines as mandates rather than recommendations.

“It doesn’t say anything about taking people off their medications if they don’t want to go off of it,” Dr. Satel said. “Of course, it’s frustrating, especially when it’s misinterpreted in the direction of poor patient care. It’s very frustrating.”

For decades, VA and other doctors have prescribed pain medications because they thought, at the time, that’s what patients needed. However, in recent years, they changed their approach when new research found opioids can be dangerous and ineffective.

“I understand their fear, their anxiety and their anger, but I want them to understand this is driven by our concern for their safety,” Mountain Home VA Opiate Safety Initiative Chairman Dr. Martin Eason said in December 2016.

Most recently, Mountain Home VA Chief of Staff Dr. David Hecht said the facility is proud of its 49% decrease in opioid prescriptions since 2012. He added, doctors consider every patient’s need on a case-by-case basis and taper veterans off opioids in a safe way.

“Many veterans have really understood and bought into it and it has helped us,” Dr. Hecht said. “Any time we reduce these medications, we want to reduce them in a safe environment.”

The VA maintains it has taken patients off opioids gradually and given veterans the opportunity to appeal their tapering decisions. The agency adds while opioids may help with short-term pain, they are not approved to treat chronic pain in non-cancer patients. Mountain Home is now encouraging veterans to try safer and more effective alternatives.

As we reported earlier this month, VA representatives plan to discuss preliminary data that show a link between opioid discontinuation and suicides at an upcoming summit. Dr. Satel has authored several published works alongside one of those speakers.


The Opioid Epidemic Has Boosted The Number Of Organs Available For Transplant


At this very moment, more than 110,000 people across the United States are lingering on organ transplant waiting lists. The ravages of the opioid epidemic have created an unforeseen opportunity – an increase in the availability of organs for donation.

New research led by investigators at University of Utah Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital shows that an increase in drug-overdose related deaths has boosted the number of organs available for transplantation. They found a more than 10-fold increase in the proportion of donors who died from drug intoxication between the years 2000 and 2016 in the United States, from 1.2% (59) to 13.7% (1,029).

“We were surprised to learn that almost all of the increased transplant activity in the United States within the last five years is a result of the drug overdose crisis,” said Mandeep R. Mehra, MD, medical director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and first author on the study.

But are these organs safe?

The researchers examined 17 years of transplantation records andfound no significant change in the recipients’ chance of survival when the organ donation came from victims of drug intoxication. The study publishes online on in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers examined survival rate of 2,360 patients one year after receiving a heart or lung transplant from donors who died from drug intoxication compared to recipients of organs from donors who died from other causes, including gunshot wound, asphyxiation, blunt head injury and intracranial hemorrhage or stroke.

According to Josef Stehlik, MD, MPH, medical director of the Heart Transplant Program at the U of U Health and senior author on the research, the team examinedheart and lung data because these organs are the more sensitive to reduced oxygen supply that may occur during a drug overdose. They focused on survival in the first year, because these concerns would manifest shortly after the transplant. The fact that transplant patients who received these organs had similar survival as other transplant patients relieves the concerns of irreversible organ damage from drug overdose death.

“In the unfortunate circumstances where opioid deaths happen, organ donation can extend life of many patients in need of transplant,” said Stehlik. “Yet, these organs are often not considered suitable for organ donation.”

Clinicians have traditionally been conservative when identifying organs from drug intoxication deaths for procurement. During an overdose, a person may experience prolonged episodes of low blood pressure that can reduce the supply of oxygen throughout the body. There are also considerations that include infection risk, such as Hepatitis B and C and HIV, but this risk can be minimized with modern testing.

“I feel hopeful that doctors across the country will read this and feel confident that organs that pass the required tests are safe for transplant,” Stehlik said. “This awareness is especially important when organ procurement professionals have to decide on use of potential donors with this high-risk history.”

This study can also serve to better inform patients. The United Network for Organ Sharing policy requires patients are made aware of the circumstances of higher risk donations and can decide whether or not to accept it.

As the government invests millions to combat the opioid epidemic, the transplant community does not plan to rely on drug-intoxication deaths as a long-term source of donations.

“We must look to new ways to increase organ donor recovery by concentrating on greater use of marginal organs or by expanding the suitable donor pool by using new technologies to improve organ function before the transplant takes place,” Mehra said.

The research team also examined the Eurotransplant data that tracked transplantation in eight European countries during the same period. They found the number of organ donors dying from drug intoxication in Europe has remained low (less than 1 percent). Stehlik attributes these low numbers to policies in Europe that have kept opioid drug prescriptions low.

Along with Stehlik and Mehra, John Jarcho, MD, and Muthiah Vaduganathan, MD, MPH, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Wida Cherikh, PhD, and Rebecca Lehman, PhD, with the United Network for Organ Sharing and Jacqueline Smits, PhD, with the Eurotransplant International Foundation contributed to this analysis.

Congress’ solution to a solve a problem … throw more money at it.


Video may not be viewable on FireFox will work on Microsoft Edge

New call to action!

New call to action!

Vice News from the TV Channel Viceland has reported some stories that are on our side as far as the “opioid epidemic.” I would love to see them do a full show on our cause. This is where you come in! They have a phone number where you can call and leave a message, essentially about anything…this is what we would like you to do.

Call 646-851-0347 and leave a message. Please choose option 1. I suggest you write down what you want to say instead of winging it, that way you know you cover the information that is important. Below is a suggestion of what you should include in your message.

1. Your name and number number (if you are not comfortable leaving your number that is okay, but hopefully they will contact some of us back.

2. State that you are calling as a chronic pain patient and want to dispute the false narrative that the mainstream media is propagating about opioids in America.

3. Explain why you need opioids and how the current hysteria over opioids is affecting your life and report if you have had your meds cut or discontinued. Be specific but do not ramble. try to be concise.

4. Ask them to please do a show sharing the plight of chronic pain patients because no one is telling our side of the story.

This is an easy call to action and imagine the impact if they get 500 calls from us……or 1000. PLEASE participate. No one has the right to complain about the situation if they are not actively trying to change it. No one will fight for us, WE have to fight for ourselves. Please try to do this within the next two weeks. It will make a stronger impression if all the calls come at once. Help make our voices heard!

Opioid Crisis: What People Don’t Know About Heroin


As the opioid epidemic rages on, many still have misconceptions about what heroin really does – and how we can end the crisis

The War on Drugs Expanded the Ways People Use Heroin – and Set the Stage for the Opioid Crisis
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

There is nothing new about heroin: What has changed is the way that we consume, dispense and talk about it. Despite the rising rate of opioid abuse and overdose in this country, we continue to mischaracterize heroin, thereby neglecting to understand the indelible hold it has on users. Here’s an attempt to clear up some of the most common misconceptions.


Heroin Isn’t Always White Powder

Heroin generally comes in three different forms in the United States: powder heroin – which falls into two subcategories, brown and off-white – tar heroin and heroin pills. Historically, the Mississippi River has been the line of demarcation between the tar and powder markets. Off-white powder heroin, which originates in Southeast and Southwest Asia, is generally considered the most desirable kind. Powder, with its origins in Mexico, often carries a deeper, browner hue, and is usually less powerful. On the West Coast, heroin comes almost exclusively from Mexico and South America and is most often sold in tar form; little balls of goo that look like black earwax. The third, least common form of heroin is “pill” form. “Pills” refer to heroin often sold in gel capsules and mixed with other powders – be it cocaine, methamphetamine or the more common heroin adulterants like powdered lactose, quinine and baby laxative. Pills are usually the cheapest and lowest-quality form of the drug.

What Might Look Like an Opioid High Is Actually the Symptoms of Withdrawal
Outsiders often confuse withdrawal symptoms for the effects of the drug, because the effects of withdrawal are far more noticeable than the euphoria the drug produces. Dilated pupils, sweating, shaking, slurring and vomiting aren’t signs of being high; they’re signs of opioid withdrawal. Quitting heroin is often called “kicking” in reference to the tendency to kick out one’s legs in attempt to stretch away the discomfort.

The War on Drugs Expanded the Ways People Use Heroin – and Set the Stage for the Opioid Crisis
In the Sixties and Seventies, just about all heroin addicts were intravenous users, but as the purity of the drug increased, so did potential methods for use.

During the 1960s, heroin use rose, in part, due to soldiers returning from Vietnam who were exposed to the drug overseas, and drug dealers in urban centers seized on this opportunity. Then, in the summer of 1969, when Nixon declared his war on drugs, he cited New York City’s heroin trade as the core of the problem. The speech apparently roused the NYPD, who proceeded to arrest some of the city’s biggest dealers.

Meanwhile, suppliers in Asia became concerned that they would lose their distribution. In response, they began setting up their own networks in America’s cities to establish a more discrete trade. Heroin sold in the U.S. saw a bump in purity around this time as a result of this more direct supply line. However, purity levels would soon skyrocket as the heroin market was about to become competitive.

Though Nixon targeted heroin in his speech, in practice the drug war mainly targeted toward marijuana.

With cocaine, heroin and marijuana all categorized as Schedule I drugs, DEA agents opted to pursue the smelliest, bulkiest and most conspicuous of those three substances.

Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, who had previously trafficked mainly in marijuana, switched to a product that was less noticeable and carried more value by weight. Ironically, it was the drug war itself that pushed the cartels into the heroin business.

Additionally, in the Eighties, crack appeared almost overnight – and authorities suddenly deprioritized heroin. Meanwhile, as a result of the tenfold rise in heroin purity between 1970 and 1990, nasal administration became a viable option for users. Mexican and Colombian cartels introduced the drug to suppliers and users who previously had only dealt with cocaine. The new, more socially acceptable method of use endeared the drug to an entirely new demographic of trendy, wealthy and often white cocaine users.

The demographic that had previously been most afflicted by heroin addiction took a deliberate step away from the drug. In low-income urban centers, the fallout of the 1970s heroin explosion became a cautionary tale. A generation came up witnessing the long-term effects of the drug, which had hardly existed as a threat in rural and suburban America. “Young African Americans and young Latinos were not going into heroin because they saw the destruction that occurred in their families and in their neighborhoods and they didn’t want to go down that road,” says Philippe Bourgois, a cultural anthropologist and author of the book Righteous Dope Fiend. “It was seen as a loserly thing to do.”

Meanwhile, he says, working-class white people in rural areas – which in the past had not been as affected by drug epidemics – found themselves beset by poverty due to the shifting nature of the American economy. The groundwork was laid for a potential drug crisis. 

The Pharmaceutical Companies Made it Worse
For a true public health crisis to occur, there first had to be an influx of opioids into the country, the likes of which no drug cartel could muster. Enter the major American pharmaceutical companies. In the late 1990s, the pharmaceutical companies successfully lobbied the Joint Commission, an organization responsible for accrediting American health care programs thereby essentially setting the standard for American health care programs, to accept the concept of pain as a vital sign. Before that, pain was a secondary consideration. But now, physicians would be required to ask about and treat their patients’ pain. In the decade that followed, sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. quadrupled. Roughly during the same time period, the overdose rates quadrupled as well. 

And as they made public attempts to reform, it only took the crisis in new directions. Take “abuse-proof” OxyContin. In 2010, OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma introduced a new version of the pill that they claimed was “crush-proof,” turning into a jelly if you tried to crush it into a powder, therefore making it impossible to inject or snort. Almost immediately, though, Internet forums lit up with collective solutions for overcoming the newly implemented safeguards. Meanwhile, anecdotes of addicts visiting the emergency room as a result of injecting the binders contained within the abuse-proof pills began to spread. Other users opted for a better workaround: switching to heroin.

Naloxone Is No Party
The existence of more opioid-dependent citizens continues to benefit the pharmaceutical industry. Naloxone, often sold under the brand name Narcan, counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose. Since 2014, there’s been a near 500 percent increase in sales of the drug. Meanwhile, over the last three years, pharmaceutical companies have steadily raised the price by as much as 50 percent. Now, with first responders throughout the country needing a steady supply of naloxone on hand, Big Pharma doesn’t only see several billion dollars per year off opioids themselves, but they see a growing profit from the sale of anti-opioids.

Thus far, 46 U.S. states have opted to make naloxone available over the counter. Despite this progress, a vocal minority has expressed concern that increased access to naloxone might have dangerous repercussions. The hysteria generated by those who oppose naloxone access may be responsible for the creation of a relatively new heroin myth.

In August 2017, a report from Boston’s Fox News 25 claimed to have identified a new trend where partygoers were intentionally overdosing on opioids so they could take Naloxone, thereby “giving the drug user a rush.” Several similar reports described the practice, dubbed “Narcan Parties.” The supposed trend was touted by Pennsylvania State Senator Lisa Boscola and State Representative Dan McNeil as a reason not to expand access to naloxone in the state. However, there’s no evidence that these parties are actually happening. “I have not been able to verify a single case of this,” Bill Stauffer, Executive Director at the Pennsylvania Recovery Organization, told The Outline. “I suspect it to be an urban legend.” 

Replacement and Maintenance Therapies Gets Results
Maintenance therapies like methadone and subutex have shown better results than non-medication-assisted treatments, both in cases of addicts seeking abstinence from opioids, and for those seeking simply to carry on living relatively normal lives. Replacement therapy with drugs like methadone, subutex, kratom and even cannabis have also shown major promise in helping addicts get clean.

The success rate of addicts getting clean without the help of replacement therapies has been stated to be as low as 3 to 5 percent and as high as 20 to 30 percent. Success rates amongst those using drugs like methadone and buprenorphine to help them taper off opioids have been cited as high as 60 to 90 percent. According to the California Society of Addiction Medicine, addicts who go cold turkey are significantly more likely to relapse than those who taper off with drugs like methadone or Suboxone.

Though Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently shared his opinion that most heroin addiction starts with marijuana “and other drugs too,” the benefits of marijuana as a potential treatment for opioid addiction have become the cornerstone of several controversial treatment modalities. Researchers also believe that painkillers derived from chemicals found in marijuana such as CBD could provide an effective and far less dangerous alternative to prescription opioids.

Safe-injection Sites Reduce Risk, Too
A 2005 study in Switzerland found greater reductions in opioid use and greater rates of complete abstinence among subjects who were given injectable heroin while supervised, over those who were given methadone over the same 12-month period. With the number of supervised injection sites around the world nearing 100, and showing promise in major cities like Sydney, Vancouver and Amsterdam, activists in major cities like New York have begun the fight to bring supervised injection sites to the U.S.

The Cure Could be in Hallucinogens
If anything like a “cure” for opioid addiction ever emerges, it will likely come from outside the medical establishment. For example, many consider Ibogaine, a hallucinogenic plant, to be one of the most promising opioid-dependence treatments on the horizon. The anti-addictive potential of the drug was discovered in the 1960s by Howard Lotsoff, an opioid-addicted beatnik who would spend the rest of his life championing the drug as a treatment for addiction.

The mantle for Ibogaine advocacy has since been taken up by people like Dimitri Mugianis, who after getting clean with Ibogaine put his life and freedom on the line to help suffering addicts with guerilla-style treatments in hotels across New York City. After a DEA sting landed Mugianis in jail in 2011, he became an icon of the harm reduction movement, a movement many consider integral to improving the state of addiction in this country. (After a years-long court battle, he was eventually convicted of a misdemeanor drug charge and served 45 days house arrest.) 

While scientists see promise in drugs like 18MC, a new chemical compound that attempts to make use of the anti-addictive properties of Ibogaine without the hallucinogenic effects, Mugianis believes that too much emphasis is put on chemical solutions.

Mugiainis insists that the only way forward is to begin changing our outlook on those addicted to opioids. “We need to start treating drug users well, like human beings,” he tells Rolling Stone. “We must offer a menu of choices as varied and complex as humans are, and addiction is.”

Addicts Aren’t So Easily Pegged
Mugianis believes that the biggest misconception about heroin addicts is that they are non-functional. During his time treating addicts, Mugianis says he’s seen heroin users with careers and families living what many would consider successful, fulfilling lives. The harm for them mainly came when they didn’t have access to the drug. “To say that people are totally dysfunctional on opiates as Americans, we’d have to discount all that active users have given to this culture, from Billie Holliday to Edgar Allan Poe to Jimi Hendrix; people who not only functioned but excelled and enriched our culture,” he says. “The people who made our culture were high.”

Attorney screws up failing to file timely appeal – client goes back to jail ?

The Florence doctor convicted last year of 22 felony drug counts including two negligent homicides is back in jail.

Dr. Chris Christensen had been free pending his appeal with the Montana Supreme Court. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. But his bail has been revoked.

According to court documents, Christensen failed to file a timely appeal with the state Supreme Court.

The court report said a stay of execution was lifted and an arrest warrant issued.

Christensen has been arrested and is currently in the Ravalli County Detention Center.

The report said that it is the court’s judgment that Christensen’s stay should be “lifted immediately” and that he should begin serving his sentence “without further delay.”



investigation found that CVS Caremark was billing the federal government significantly higher prices for seniors’ drugs than was appropriate

Aetna whistleblower alleging CVS gouged Medicare and Medicaid customers put on leave


A whistleblower with Aetna who accused CVS Caremark of gouging Medicaid and Medicare customers with high prescription-drug costs has been placed on paid administrative leave by the insurance company.

The move comes after the whistleblower’s lawsuit was unsealed in federal court in early April. It also comes as CVS Caremark, one of the country’s largest pharmacy benefit managers, pursues the acquisition of Aetna for a reported $69 billion.

Sarah Behnke, at the time the chief Medicare actuary for Aetna, filed the whistleblower lawsuit, which is pending. Her attorney told The Dispatch that the decision by Aetna to send her home is “retaliatory and inappropriate.”

Behnke said her internal investigation found that CVS Caremark was billing the federal government significantly higher prices for seniors’ drugs than was appropriate.

The scheme has been used by CVS Caremark since 2007, Behnke said, and has cost the federal government more than $1 billion in fraudulent charges, according to her lawsuit.

Some pharmacists say the same practice is happening in Ohio. CVS Caremark is the pharmacy benefit manager for four of Ohio Medicaid’s five managed-care companies.

A pharmacy benefit manager, or PBM, is the middleman entity that negotiates with drug manufacturers and then sets the prices for insurance companies and pharmacies. Those prices are what the public pays for prescription drugs.

State legislators in Ohio have requested that CVS provide pricing lists to see whether so-called “spread pricing” is happening in Ohio. Spread pricing is when the PDM negotiates a lower or discounted price with a drug manufacturer and then negotiates another price with the pharmacy. PBMs also negotiate different payments to pharmacies to make money. Those discounts typically are not passed on to the health-insurance provider.

CVS Caremark officials, who have rejected allegations of spread pricing or wrongdoing, say they will turn over documents by June 1. They say they were not aware of who filed the lawsuit until after announcing the plan to buy Aetna.

“We believe this complaint is without merit, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against these allegations,” CVS Health spokesman Michael DeAngelis said in an email response. Should CVS Caremark acquire Aetna, he said, “CVS Health policy prohibits the taking of punitive action against a whistleblower.”

Aetna officials declined to comment.

The lawsuit and CVS Caremark’s planned acquisition of Aetna both have significant implications for taxpayers, who fund Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Aetna would be the first health-care provider owned by CVS. If the purchase is approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, it would give the pharmacy giant a health-care conglomerate of managed-care and pharmacy benefit management operations.

That control of the entire chain of health care by CVS would, in effect, create a vertical monopoly and directly affect how much customers end up paying for health care, including prescription drugs.

The Trump administration has heavily criticized these types of conglomerations as being “monopolies” that allow companies in the prescription-drug chain to conceal prices. Last week, President Donald Trump’s Food and Drug Administration chief called it a “rigged system” against the public.

PBMs such as CVS Caremark were created to lower prescription-drug costs in the marketplace. During the past five years, prescription-drug costs have been the fastest growing facet of the health care chain, according to a recent study by U.S. News and World Report.

Three PBMs control between 80 and 90 percent of the prescription drugs in the marketplace, with an estimated $400 billion in gross sales, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. PBMs conceal how they affect drug prices from insurance providers and the public.

Behnke filed a federal False Claims Act lawsuit in 2014 under seal. Whistleblower lawsuits are sometimes filed under seal to allow federal prosecutors time to review the allegations and get involved.

Behnke’s attorney, Susan Schneider Thomas, said the government deferred participation for now. That allowed the judge to unseal the lawsuit in April.

That meant that CVS officials didn’t formally know the allegations or who filed the lawsuit until April.

Whistleblower advocates expressed concern that the acquisition by CVS could be bad for Behnke and affect the lawsuit. They said it’s unlikely, though, that CVS pursued the acquisition to choke off the lawsuit.

“I think if there is an acquisition by CVS, she has a reason to be concerned,” said James Mowery Jr., a Dublin-based lawyer whose firm specializes in whistleblower lawsuits. “She needs to be sure that her employer will always be Aetna, and she needs to be keeping a diary of everything that happens up until the acquisition.”

Mowery said the proposed acquisition makes the lawsuit a “significantly complex piece of litigation.”

Whistleblower Advocates, a whistleblower-lawyers firm based in Chicago, said that until the federal government demands to be a party in the suit, CVS will not feel pressure to address Behnke or her accusations.

Behnke said she took her concerns to corporate executives for Aetna and CVS Caremark in 2013, according to court records. Nothing happened.

Thomas said in the complaint she filed against CVS Caremark that the company was charging Aetna 25 to 40 percent more for drugs than its competitors.

Behnke also said that during meetings in February of 2013 with CVS officials to present her findings, CVS Vice President Allison Brown said Caremark had negotiated lower prices for those drugs but was not contractually obligated to show Aetna those prices.

Thomas called the exchange a “virtual admission of liability,” according to court records.

attrib? CVS Caremark officials also confirmed at those meetings that they had re-created Behnke’s analysis of drug prices and confirmed that she was accurate, according to court records. Behnke asked whether CVS Caremark could use the information to negotiate better prices for Aetna’s policyholders.

“Caremark defendants … stated that improving or increasing the discounts Aetna received would adversely impact” CVS Caremark’s profits due to “retail contracting methodology,” according to court records.

In an email sent in July of 2013, Aetna’s head of its Medicare division marveled at how much money CVS Caremark was making on the “hidden spread.”

By September of 2013, Aetna indicated it would shop around for another PBM to see whether it could find better rates, according to the lawsuit.

CVS Caremark officials immediately offered to lower the costs of drugs for Aetna. When Aetna started shopping for a better deal, CVS Caremark offered an even steeper discount, according to the lawsuit.

Attorneys for CVS Caremark filed a motion April 20 to permanently seal the case again, saying the lawsuit would cause significant financial harm. The company’s attorney said Behnke provided sensitive information.

“These details concern the financial guarantees and pricing terms to which Caremark and Aetna agreed as well as financial terms allegedly offered during negotiations and data allegedly revealing specific prices paid by Aetna as well as Caremark’s performance on financial guarantees,” the motion read.

Behnke’s attorneys have until Friday to respond to the request to seal the case.


Dr. William Mangino talks about the fight to clear his name for supposedly over prescribing opiates to his chronic pain patients.

Are many PBM’s – especially CVS/Caremark – guilty of self-dealing



The PBM’s are forcing me to rant on Facebook, which I thought I would never do! Please, band together with me, watch, educate, share and help stop these BULLIES!!

Here is a recent article from the State of Arkansas discovered that the PBM Caremark – part of CVS – is paying themselves (CVS Pharmacies) – on average – $60.00 MORE PER PRESCRIPTION than when a pt had the very same prescription filled at one of CVS’ competitors.

Lawmakers, Pharmacists Meet with CVS over Regulation of Pharmacy Benefit Managers


Here is another article from the state of Illinois where the same PMB (Caremark) has cut reimbursement on prescriptions paid for by Medicaid and handled by Caremark has been reduced to a level that is BELOW THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS

state contracts conceal the profits being made by pharmacy benefit managers for squeezing pharmacies

%d bloggers like this: