PAIN PATIENTS MEMORIAL SERVICE SCHEDULED FOR PAIN PATIENTS ADVOCACY WEEK, April 23-30, 2017!

PAIN PATIENTS MEMORIAL SERVICE SCHEDULED FOR PAIN PATIENTS ADVOCACY WEEK, April 23-30, 2017!

We need the names of any chronic pain patients and physicians that you know have committed suicide because of the War on Drugs, Chronic Pain Patients and the Comppassionate Physicians Who Treat Them.

Please contact chronic pain patient advocate and veteran Martin Polluck with the names:

Martin Pollack
518-589-4110
martindpollack@gmail.com

www.AmericanPainInstitute.org
www.PainPatientsCoalition.com

A deceptive bureaucratic maze adds deep insult and possibly criminal intent to this obvious injury

The CDC Opioid Guidelines Violate Standards of Science Research

http://acsh.org/news/2017/03/25/cdc-opioid-guidelines-violate-standards-science-research-11050

If you follow healthcare news, you know that millions of US pain patients are experiencing a world of troubles.  If their pain itself wasn’t enough, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added to their agony in March 2016 by issuing a restrictive “Guideline” to primary care physicians on prescription of opioid medications to adults with long-lasting non-cancer pain. 

The Guideline was phrased as advisory rather than mandatory.  But that distinction quickly got lost as the US Drug Enforcement Administration ramped up disciplinary proceedings and prosecution of doctors for “over-prescribing” opioids like OxyContin and hydrocodone.  Even before final publication, Congress made the Guideline mandatory for the Department of Veterans Affairs.  More recently, the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are seeking to turn the Guideline into a mandatory restrictive practice standard for insurance reimbursement. 

The new CMS standard will impose legal limits on the maximum amount of opioid pain relievers that a doctor may prescribe to a patient who isn’t actually dying of cancer.  A maximum of 90 Morphine Milligram Equivalents per Day (MMED) will be imposed retroactively on patients who have done well on much higher doses for years, with no evidence of addiction or overdose risk.  This despite the fact that the methodology of MMED is itself considered a meaningless medical mythology by many experts in the field.

Consequences of these changes are predictable.  Even more physicians will leave pain management practice, throwing thousands of patients into the street without medical referral or support when they go into opioid withdrawal.  Whole areas of US States are already no longer served by any pain management center.  Potentially millions more patients will be forcibly tapered down or cut off cold-turkey, plunging them into agony and disability when they can no longer work or maintain family relationships due to under-treatment of their pain.  More patients will be turned away by emergency rooms and family doctors.  Suicide rates — already on the increase — will soar

A deceptive bureaucratic maze adds deep insult and possibly criminal intent to this obvious injury

Many of the core assumptions of the CDC guidelines are supported by only the weakest medical evidence – and others are clearly contradicted by the evidence.  Medical professionals have published sharp criticisms of the CDC guideline and of the anti-opioid biases of consultants who wrote the document.  A recent paper in Pain Medicine [ref: Pain Med (2016) 17 (11): 2036-2046] offers analysis that shows the writers of the Guideline deliberately distorted the evidence they gathered.

CDC consultants performed a literature review on the effectiveness and risks of three classes of treatments for severe chronic pain:  opioids, non-opioid medicines like Tylenol, and behavioral therapies like rational cognitive therapy. Based on this review, they declared that there is very little evidence that opioids work for pain over long periods of time.  But they neglected to inform readers that they had rejected any study of opioid medications that hadn’t lasted at least a year, then declaring that there was no proof that opioids are effective over the long term.  But they did NOT reject studies of non-opioid medications or behavioral therapies that were similarly short. 

As the Pain Medicine paper states, “To dismiss trials as “inadequate” if their observation period is a year or less is inconsistent with current regulatory standards… Considering only duration of active treatment in efficacy or effectiveness trials, published evidence is no stronger for any major drug category or behavioral therapy than for opioids.”

This didn’t keep the writers of the CDC Guideline from recommending that non-opioid treatments be favored over opioids, despite lack of evidence that they work.  Nor did it keep the writers from exaggerating opioid risks – using the term “overdose” no less than 150 times in their biased and unscientific practice standard. 

It is time for the CDC to withdraw its misdirected “opioid guideline” for a major rewrite.  This time, the effort should be led by pain management specialists, not addiction psychiatrists.  Pain patients or their advocates should be voting members of the writers group.

Where are the personal injury attorneys, the class action attorneys and the ACLU on these issues… medical corporations dictating medication prescribing limits to their employed prescribers. Targeting mostly pts that are suffering from subjective diseases and have a legit medical necessity for being prescribed controlled substances.

Insurance companies indirectly denying opiates across the board by mandating PRIOR AUTHORIZATION and then denying the filed requests.

patients in Florida are being forced to abandon the drug stores they’ve been using for years

 

Lawmakers working on pharmacy bill after I-Team report

http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/i-team-investigates/lawmakers-working-on-pharmacy-bill-after-i-team-report

TAMPA, Fla. – Medicaid patients and small pharmacy owners are fighting in Tallahassee to do away with restrictions on where prescriptions can be filled.

In January, the ABC Action News I-Team showed how patients in Florida are being forced to abandon the drug stores they’ve been using for years. As a result, some of those pharmacies are on the cusp of closing.

RELATED: Small pharmacies may be forced to close due to restrictive networks

Now state lawmakers are considering a bill to let people choose their own pharmacy, instead of being forced to go to the big chain drug stores. The Senate version has passed two committees, but supporters of the bill say they’re struggling to gain traction in the House.

Manjit Matharoo, who owns two pharmacies in the Tampa Bay area, says he is losing $25,000 a month at each of his stores because Medicaid contractors are pushing enrollees to the big chains.

“If this keeps happening,” Matharoo told the I-Team. “I’m sure we’ll have to close our doors.”

The situation is hitting patients, too.

“It’s been a nightmare,” said Jill Rand, who recently got a letter ordering her to switch from a pharmacy she has used for 11 years to a drug store chain. “My pharmacy was more than a pharmacy to me. And I miss it. I miss it bad.”

Bill Mincy, national chair of a group called Pharmacy Choice and Access, says more than 250 small pharmacies had to shut down last year.

“In certain situations, it may have been the sole factor,” Mincy said. “In other times, it was a contributing factor.”

Mincy recently met in Tampa with 50 pharmacy owners, who all say their business is in jeopardy if something doesn’t change.

“Many of them, very emotional, tears in their eyes about the investment they had made,” Mincy said.

Since the I-Team’s January report, according to Mincy, two companies that administer Medicaid plans in Florida have opened up coverage and given small pharmacies a chance to compete. But that’s not a permanent fix, since plan administrators could change their mind any time they want.

That’s why Senate Bill 670 and House Bill 625 are so important to small pharmacies and their loyal customers.

If the bills pass, Mincy says small pharmacies will meet the same terms, conditions and prices as their bigger competitors. Yet, he adds, big health care providers and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration are against the bills.

The I-Team reached out to AHCA for comment, they did not respond to several phone calls and emails.

Jarrod Holbrook is an Emmy and AP Award-winning Investigative Reporter for the ABC Action News I-Team. Do you have a story idea? Contact Jarrod on Facebook, Twitter, or via email at jarrod.holbrook@wfts.com.

CDC study: using opioids for one day can get you hooked

CDC study: using opioids for one day can get you hooked

Fake OxyContin linked to 6 deaths in Yavapai County, Medical Examiner says

The Drug Enforcement Agency has issued a notice that pills purported to be OxyContin but containing the more potent drug fentanyl are behind dozens of overdose deaths in Arizona.Fake OxyContin linked to 6 deaths in Yavapai County, Medical Examiner says

https://www.dcourier.com/news/2017/mar/25/oxycontin-laced-more-powerful-drug-represents-fata/

The Drug Enforcement Agency this week issued a notice that pills purported to be OxyContin but containing the more potent drug fentanyl are behind dozens of overdose deaths in Arizona.

The pills are manufactured by Mexican drug trafficking organizations, and sold on the illicit drug market, according to the DEA.

Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine, the agency said.

 

In Yavapai County, the Office of the Medical Examiner has seen six deaths, believed to be accidental, yet attributable to fentanyl since January 2016.

“There are some deaths … with very high fentanyl toxicology levels and no history of suicidal ideations,” said Mike Sanders, an investigator in the office. “There is an increase in fentanyl intoxication (deaths) here.”

The DEA has yet to investigate counties other than Maricopa for the fake OxyContin pills, spokeswoman Erica Curry said. “We thought it was big enough to go ahead with Maricopa County, and then we’re going to go ahead with some additional analysis later.”

The statistics in Maricopa for 32 cases identified as being attributable to fake OxyContin:

• The average age at death is 35 years, with a range of 16-64 years old; 

• The average age at death for females is 37 years and for males it is 34 years;

• 50 percent of the people who died were white, 38 percent Hispanic;

• 75 percent of those who died were men.

“Manufacturing these pills using extremely deadly substances like fentanyl is a reflection of the depravity by which Mexican drug traffickers operate to further their profit margin,” said Doug Coleman, DEA special agent in Arizona. “Mexican (drug makers) are pushing these deadly substances into the illicit drug market to expand their business among the already increasing opioid-addicted population.  People are dying across the country and here in Arizona.”

 

Wanna kill yourself?

Wanna kill yourself?

 

Imagine this. You come home from school one day. You’ve had yet another horrible day. You’re just ready to give up. So you go to your room, close the door, and take out that suicide note you’ve written and rewritten over and over and over You take out those razor blades, and cut for the very last time. You grab that bottle of pills and take them all. Laying down, holding the letter to your chest, you close your eyes for the very last time. A few hours later, your little brother knocks on your door to come tell you dinners ready. You don’t answer, so he walks in. All he sees is you laying on your bed, so he thinks you’re asleep. He tells your mom this. Your mom goes to your room to wake you up. She notices something is odd. She grabs the paper in your hand and reads it. Sobbing, she tries to wake you up. She’s screaming your name. Your brother, so confused, runs to go tell Dad that “Mommy is crying and sissy won’t wake up.” Your dad runs to your room. He looks at your mom, crying, holding the letter to her chest, sitting next to your lifeless body. It hits him, what’s going on, and he screams. He screams and throws something at the wall. And then, falling to his knees, he starts to cry. Your mom crawls over to him, and they sit there, holding each other, crying. The next day at school, there’s an announcement. The principal tells everyone about your suicide. It takes a few seconds for it to sink in, and once it does, everyone goes silent. Everyone blames themselves. Your teachers think they were too hard on you. Those mean popular girls, they think of all the things they’ve said to you. That boy that used to tease you and call you names, he can’t help but hate himself for never telling you how beautiful you really are. Your ex boyfriend, the one that you told everything to, that broke up with you.. He can’t handle it. He breaks down and starts crying, and runs out of the school. Your friends? They’re sobbing too, wondering how they could never see that anything was wrong, wishing they could have helped you before it was too late. And your best friend? She’s in shock. She can’t believe it. She knew what you were going through, but she never thought it would get that bad… Bad enough for you to end it. She can’t cry, she can’t feel anything. She stands up, walks out of the classroom, and just sinks to the floor. Shaking, screaming, but no tears coming out. It’s a few days later, at your funeral. The whole town came. Everyone knew you, that girl with the bright smile and bubbly personality. The one that was always there for them, the shoulder to cry on. Lots of people talk about all the good memories they had with you, there were a lot. Everyone’s crying, your little brother still doesn’t know you killed yourself, he’s too young. Your parents just said you died. It hurts him, a lot. You were his big sister, you were supposed to always be there for him. Your best friend, she stays strong through the entire service, but as soon as they start lowering your casket into the ground, she just loses it. She cries and cries and doesn’t stop for days. It’s two years later. Your teachers all quit their job. Those mean girls have eating disorders now. That boy that used to tease you cuts himself. Your ex boyfriend doesn’t know how to love anymore and just sleeps around with girls. Your friends all go into depression. Your best friend? She tried to kill herself. She didn’t succeed like you did, but she tried…your brother? He finally found out the truth about your death. He self harms, he cries at night, he does exactly what you did for years leading up to your suicide. Your parents? Their marriage fell apart. Your dad became a workaholic to distract himself from your death. Your mom got diagnosed with depression and just lays in bed all day. People care. You may not think so, but they do. Your choices don’t just effect you. They effect everyone. Don’t end your life, you have so much to live for. Things can’t get better if you give up. I’m here for absolutely anyone that needs to talk, no matter who you are. Even if we’ve NEVER talked before, I’m here for you. Copy and paste this as your status to show people there are people out there that care.let’s see who actually read all of it.
For anyone that feels this way 😢💜
Could 1 friend, please copy and repost (not share)? We are trying to demonstrate that someone’s always listening.
#SuicideAwareness 1-800-273-8255

“winged junkies ” ?

'These birds have become so smart that they don’t make any noise when they swoop on the fields,' one farmer said.

Druggie parrots plunder poppy fields to feed opium addictions

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/24/druggie-parrots-plunder-poppy-fields-to-feed-opium-addictions.html

Junkie parrots are plundering poppy fields to feed their opium addictions.

They have learned not to squawk and fly silently into fields to nab the drug-laden pods.

Video shows them retreating to high branches to gorge on the plants, grown under state control.

Farmers now claim they are getting warnings from the Indian government’s narcotics department – which controls opium farming – over their reduced yields.

This phenomenon was first reported in 2015, but this year it has spread across to other regions for the first time.

Sobharam Rathod, an opium farmer from Neemach, India, estimates parrots are stealing around ten percent of his crop and he has been given a warning.

He said: “Usually, the parrots would make sound when in a group.

“But these birds have become so smart that they don’t make any noise when they swoop on the fields.

“The birds start chirping when they fly away with opium pods.

“We have tried every trick possible to keep the birds at bay but these addicts keep coming back even at the risk of their life.

“Like we keep an eye on them, but they also keep an eye on us.

“The moment you lower your guard the army of parrots silently swoop onto your field and take away the bulbs.”

In 2015 drug raiding parrots were reported in Chittorgarh in the state of Rajasthan.

But this year they have been found making a huge dent in crops 40 miles away in Neemach in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

According to farmers, the numbers of birds raiding their fields are increasing with every passing year.

TV documentary on pain treatment funded by doctor with industry ties

TV documentary on pain treatment funded by doctor with industry ties

www.statnews.com/2017/03/24/pain-documentary-public-television/

Public television stations across the country have begun airing a documentary about pain treatment produced by a doctor with significant financial ties to the manufacturers of opioid medications — a fact not disclosed in the program.

“The Painful Truth” chronicles the plight of several patients struggling to find effective treatment for chronic pain. Throughout the 57-minute-long program, politicians, federal agencies, and others are depicted as having overreacted to the epidemic of opioid-related overdoses; the documentary suggests pain specialists have been discouraged from prescribing opioids to patients who genuinely need them.

The program accuses the US Drug Enforcement Agency of unfairly targeting pain doctors and putting a “bounty” on pain clinics the agency aims to shut down.

“The political culture has declared war against opioids and those who prescribe them,” the narrator of the program says. “The DEA is the army. The pain patients are the civilians caught in the middle.”

The producer, Dr. Lynn Webster of Utah, and several of the experts he quotes in the program, have long-standing and extensive financial relationships with pain medicine makers. When asked why these relationships are not disclosed to viewers, Webster told STAT that he did not receive any drug industry funding for the documentary. He said it was funded entirely by himself and his wife.

“I am cognizant of that issue, but I think I dealt with it as carefully as I could,” he said in an interview. If viewers want to know whether any of the individual doctors associated with the documentary have financial relationships with pharmaceutical makers, Webster said they can search for that information on the web.

Webster has been paid by dozens of pharmaceutical companies for research, consulting, advisory board positions, speaking engagements, and travel expenses. From 1990 to 2010, Webster operated a pain clinic in Salt Lake City. In 2003, he cofounded a research facility that operated out of the same building as his pain clinic. He has focused on research since closing the clinic in 2010, most recently as vice president of scientific affairs at PRA Health Sciences.

Not referenced in the documentary is the role of pharmaceutical companies that misleadingly marketed opioids by downplaying addiction risks and convinced doctors to prescribe the potent painkillers for conditions the drugs are not approved to treat. Physicians who treat pain patients are described as victims — of overzealous authorities and coldhearted insurance companies. Also criticized is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which last year issued voluntary guidelines that advise doctors that the use of non-opioid treatment is preferred for chronic pain. An undercurrent of resentment regarding media coverage of opioid addiction runs throughout the program.

“There are dozens of important stories about people with opioid addiction almost daily but rarely is there a story about people in pain,” Webster said in an email to STAT.

The program is being distributed by the National Educational Telecommunications Association, which makes the documentary available to public television stations across the country. Public television stations pay an annual fee to NETA for the rights to broadcast the programming it offers. “The Painful Truth” was brought to NETA by MontanaPBS, which acts as the presenting station and helps Webster and his co-producer market the program to other stations.

The documentary was first offered on March 1 and has been booked for broadcast in 20 markets. It is scheduled to air in the country’s largest market when it runs on WNYE in New York City Monday and has already aired on stations in Ohio, Montana, New Mexico, and Georgia, according to the documentary’s website. It can be viewed online on the PBS website.

Aaron Pruitt, director of content at MontanaPBS, said he was “not aware” of any financial connections between Webster and companies that make opioid pain relievers. “If there is some evidence of that, I have seen nothing,” he said. After being directed to public disclosures of those relationships, Pruitt wrote in an email, “As far as I can tell, he has been working with companies to find safer, less addictive treatments for patients.”

In a pitch to television stations offered the documentary, the distributors write that “NETA and MontanaPBS have carefully reviewed The Painful Truth, and the credentials of Dr. Webster. We have found Dr. Webster to be one of the country’s experts on pain treatment, a past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, and an advocate for the safe prescription of opioids.”

Pruitt said he and the director of programming at NETA did look into a DEA investigation of Webster’s pain clinic after several patient deaths. Government officials never disclosed what they were investigating. Webster said he received a letter informing him the investigation was closed with no action taken. The US attorney’s office in Utah was quoted in 2014 confirming there would be no prosecution of Webster.

Some of Webster’s industry relationships are detailed in the federal government’s Open Payments database. From 2013-2015, Webster was listed as the principal researcher on just over $9 million worth of contracts with pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer Inc., Mallinckrodt LLC, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Jazz Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Orexo US, Inc.

While much of the research is opioid-related, the nature of the work ranges from a study of a medication to treat opioid dependence to examining the abuse potential of certain opioids. Webster said the research money is paid to whatever research company he is working for and he is not privy to details of contracts with the drug makers.

Webster has also received direct payments from industry — more than $100,000 from several companies in the 2013-2015 period reported on the government website. He received $11,400 in consulting fees and other compensation from Insys Therapeutics, an Arizona company whose marketing of a powerful prescription opioid called Subsys is the subject of numerous investigations. He was also reimbursed by the company for travel to Las Vegas, Miami Beach, and Chicago.

He was paid $3,000 by Zogenix Inc. for speaking at a non-accredited medical education event related to the company’s controversial opioid painkiller Zohydro ER, which it later sold to another company. He has received $6,000 for consulting for Depomed Inc., which makes a long-acting opioid pain medication.

The government database does not include all of Webster’s recent financial relationships with industry, and his work for pharmaceutical companies in prior years is not disclosed on the site. Webster has in earlier years reported industry relationships in medical journal articles and at speaking engagements, but the amounts and specific nature of payments are not public.

For instance, Webster reported in 2010 that he was a member of the advisory board at Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, whose aggressive marketing of the prescription painkiller has been blamed for helping seed the opioid addiction crisis. Three company executives pleaded guilty to charges Purdue fraudulently marketed the drug by falsely claiming it was less addictive.

Webster also reported being a consultant for Cepahlon Inc., which at the time sold a fentanyl product called Actiq. Cephalon, which was acquired by Teva in 2011, paid a $425 million fine to resolve allegations it improperly marketed Actiq and two other drugs.

Webster was the president in 2013 and 2014 of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, which has received significant funding from pharmaceutical companies.

Among the physicians featured in the documentary is Dr. Russell Portenoy, who helped write a 1996 consensus statement on behalf of two pain societies that has been criticized for allegedly playing down the risk of addiction and overdose with opioids when prescribed to treat chronic pain. Portenoy was a frequent lecturer on the topic, although he later acknowledged that some talks he gave about the risk of opioid addiction were not true.

Both Portenoy and Webster are named as defendants in ongoing lawsuits filed by three counties in New York alleging they were part of a conspiracy with drug makers to deceptively market opioids as safe and effective in the treatment of chronic pain. The doctors, in a court filing, strongly denied the charge and called it an attack on their free speech rights to express medical opinions.

Webster said he attempted to include differing views of opioid treatment in his documentary and reached out to a member of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, a group that has called for more cautious use of the medications. He declined to identify the person he contacted, but said it was by email and he never received a response.

Jane Ballantyne, the president of PROP and a professor of pain medicine at the University of Washington, said she was never contacted by Webster and doesn’t know of other members of her group who were. She has not viewed the documentary.

“The message should be that opioid treatment of chronic pain is the exception not the rule,” she wrote in an email. “Lynn Webster would like it to be the rule, I think — and so would pharma who keep pushing that way.” Ballantyne said she did not have any financial relationships with industry. In 2015, she reported receiving consultancy fees from a law firm that has sued prescription opioid makers.

“The Painful Truth” is critical of the DEA and features a doctor who was found innocent of charges related to illegal prescribing following a federal government investigation. Webster said he has served as an expert witness or consultant in more than a dozen cases on behalf of pain doctors charged with improper prescribing of opioids. His own case with the DEA and his expert witness work for doctors is not disclosed in the documentary.

“There is a lot in the media and press about the bad doctors and the overprescribing and the pill mills,” Webster said in an interview. “What there isn’t, and the reason for the documentary, is to bring something out that is not well-known. That is there are doctors being accused of wrongdoing when there is probably not justification. And that has had a negative impact on the ability of physicians and their interest and willingness to treat people in pain whether with an opioid or not.”

A former DEA agent is shown in the documentary saying the agency is often “used as a bogeyman.” A DEA spokesman, Russell Baer, said the allegation in the documentary that the agency has placed a bounty on pain clinics or that agents receive bonuses for successfully going after pain doctors is “false.” Baer said he “took offense” to that allegation and the accusation in the documentary that the agency views pharmaceutical companies and pain doctors as “the enemy.” He said the DEA actively works with both drug manufacturers and prescribers to find ways to address the opioid epidemic.

The patients featured in “The Painful Truth” include some who are fearful of losing access to opioid treatment, as well as those who say some doctors have refused to treat them and pharmacies have balked at filling their prescriptions. The apprehension among some pain patients that they won’t be able to get opioids has been reported in several media outlets, including STAT.

Webster acknowledged that several of the patients in his documentary are “miserable” even while taking opioids, and the documentary makes the point that better treatments are desperately needed. For now, however, he said opioid medications are often the best of several flawed options.

“With all of the focus on opioid addiction, we are forgetting many people with pain who have benefited,” he said. “It’s the only thing that keeps them from suicide.”

 

Opioid & Heroin Town Hall in the Skype Live Studio

Opioid & Heroin Town Hall in the Skype Live Studio

www.youtube.com/watch?v=99ZT94iu9gU

 

DEA Approves Syndros, a Pharma Cannabis Solution, for Schedule II Status

DEA Approves Syndros, a Pharma Cannabis Solution, for Schedule II Status

http://www.westword.com/marijuana/dea-approves-syndros-a-cannabis-solution-from-insys-for-schedule-ii-status-8904122

The Drug Enforcement Administration has awarded a Schedule II classification for a cannabis solution.

Cannabis itself is classified under Schedule I, the same classification as heroin, and marijuana advocates have long hoped that the DEA would lessen the drug’s classification to a Schedule II. While Schedule II substances still have a high potential for abuse, dependence and addiction, there are fewer restrictions on research — an area in which cannabis and marijuana products have encountered many roadblocks.

The pharmaceutical drug company Insys waited two years for the approval of Syndros, an oral remedy containing THC; this week the DEA finally gave the okay. Syndros is approved to treat nausea and vomiting, which many cancer patients suffer during chemotherapy.

Kevin Gallagher, director of compliance in government affairs at Craft Concentrates and a board member of the Cannabis Business Alliance, notes that many cancer patients already use medical marijuana to help with the same conditions that Syndros targets.

“When I was working [at a dispensary], I got to see a lot of cancer patients. These cancer patients really loved getting a mixture of CBD and THC — they would smoke it for immediate relief but take various edibles, tinctures, what have you, to really get their body feeling well,” Gallagher says. “You get that body high. You get that body release. You get that pain relief. In my experience, with cancer patients, they would come in, and some would be in for the first time. They couldn’t keep anything down, they’re going through chemotherapy, and they try cannabis for the first time. They come back a few days later and you can see there’s a smile on their face for the first time in however many weeks or months. They can actually start eating again. The nausea is much less severe, so you can really see how it really changed their lives.”

He would watch as patients begin to attain some kind of normal life, even at the most difficult and trying time they’d experienced, Gallagher adds.

“These pharmaceutical companies still think they’re going to win the battle in creating essentially fake cannabis and having to even compete with the real cannabis industry, but they’re not looking at the effects of certain terpenes or certain cannabinoids,” he says.

Another aspect of cannabis that Gallagher says pharmaceutical companies will never be able to control is home growing. Pharmaceutical-grade medicine can use very few of the substances that can be added to liquids, salves and food, or taken directly from the plant. But home growers can.

“They can just make a lot of these products at their homes,” Gallagher points out. “They don’t need to go to a doctor or go to a pharmacy to get a prescription. They can truly make a lot of this at home….This is a completely unique substance that is so readily available, and it’s so easy to take advantage of its healing nature, so it’ll be very interesting to see how that plays out.”

While Gallagher watches how the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the cannabis industry evolves, Tom Angell, founder of the Marijuana Majority, has already identified an area where the two are already intersecting: He followed the money.

In his daily newsletter, the Marijuana Moment, Angell notes that Insys donated half a million dollars to the campaign against legalizing marijuana in Arizona. Arizona was one of nine states with cannabis legalization on the ballot last November; it was the only one that didn’t pass it. Insys is based in Arizona, he points out.

“It doesn’t really surprise me…. It’s typical big pharma,” Gallagher says. “This pharmaceutical company also produces fentanyl. You can see where that company lies. They don’t care at all about cannabis, right? This drug isn’t even derived from cannabis; it’s derived from dronabinol. It just seems like they’re trying to compete to make a more concentrated form, so they don’t want Arizona and other [states] to have legal cannabis because they don’t want to compete with real cannabis. They just want patients to take their drug that was cooked up in a lab that has nothing to do with cannabis.

“As soon as you see that this company is making fentanyl, you can see [that] what they’re more interested in is how many patents they can distribute the drug to and get a lot of money out of it,” he adds. “They obviously don’t care about a patient’s health, because they’re trying to continue prohibition in Arizona, and likely other states as well.”

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