AUDIO INTERVIEW & ARTICLE: U.S. Opioid Epidemic Out of Control

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AFP AUDIO INTERVIEW

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Deaths caused by overdoses from prescription pain killers and those caused by the increasing availability of cheap heroin have reached such epidemic levels in this once-great nation that it has become a 2016 presidential election issue, and President Barack Hussein Obama has been forced to address this issue, not just because of the sobering statistics that can’t be ignored, but from educational pressure groups formed as a result of losing family members.

On October 19, two days before Obama’s visit to Charleston, West Virginia, AMERICAN FREE PRESS conducted an exclusive interview with the spokesperson of one of the groups whose activism forced the president’s hand.

Dave Gahary spoke with Judy Rummler, the chair of the Fed Up! Coalition, about her involvement in the group, its latest rally in Washington, D.C., and its successes, in this important interview (19:54)

U.S. Opioid Epidemic Out-of-Control

Each day 44 people die from overdoses of prescription painkillers and heroin in the U.S., 16,000 a year

Prescription painkiller and heroin overdoses have more than quadrupled in the past 20 years

Vicodin the most prescribed drug in America

CDC has called opioid addiction and overdose deaths an epidemic

By Dave Gahary

Deaths caused by overdoses from prescription pain killers and those caused by the increasing availability of cheap heroin have reached such epidemic levels in this once-great nation that it has become a 2016 presidential election issue, as New Hampshire poll participants put it above jobs and the economy as something candidates should address. President Barack Hussein Obama has been forced to address this issue, not just because of the sobering statistics that can’t be ignored, but from educational pressure groups formed as a result of losing family members.

On October 21 he visited West Virginia, the state hardest hit by drug overdose deaths, promising his administration would do more to assist struggling communities losing their loved ones to this latest scourge sweeping the country. According to a report by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, West Virginia’s overdose death rate is more than twice the national average, where around 3,000 residents of the Mountain State have overdosed on prescription painkillers since 2010.

West Virginia’s not the exception sadly, but the rule in 21st century America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioid-related overdose deaths have been steadily increasing since records have been kept. In 2013, 16,235 died from prescription opioids, and 8,257 from heroin. Although the increase in prescription opioid deaths was only 1% from 2012, it was up 39% for heroin for the same time period. Deaths from prescription opioids, however, are twice as high from 2001. In 2013, total drug overdose deaths were 43,982, up 6% from the previous year.

On October 19, two days before Obama’s visit to Charleston, West Virginia, AMERICAN FREE PRESS conducted an exclusive interview with the spokesperson of one of the groups whose activism forced the president’s hand.

Judy Rummler, the chair of the Fed Up! Coalition, who lost a son to a prescription drug overdose following an injury, spoke with AFP about her involvement in the group, its latest rally in Washington, D.C., and its successes.



 

Steve struggled with his pain for eight or nine years and tried all sorts of ways to get relief from his pain,” she began, “ but eventually a well-intentioned family doctor prescribed OxyContin and after five years he was very addicted and he was a changed person.”

Steve was 43 when he died.

Mrs. Rummler explained how this scourge can affect nearly all of us.

“Before that he’d been an all-conference soccer player, a dean’s list student at the University of Minnesota, a gifted musician, had lots of friends, and was engaged to be married,” she said.

What brought the coalition together was the federal government’s failure to respond to the pleas of the victims’ families.

“Many of us had tried for a long time to go to the FDA to try to get them to change the labeling of the drugs so that doctors would understand the risks and patients would understand the risks associated with taking them,” she explained, “since there’s no real evidence that these are safe and effective for long-term use.”

She pointed out that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gets about 60% of their money from the pharmaceutical industry in the form of fees, thanks to the Prescription Drug User Fee Act of 1992, which allowed the federal regulator to collect fees from drug companies to fund their new drug approval process.

Mrs. Rummler lamented that “the FDA is currently approving a steady stream of new opioids, overruling advisory committee recommendations and sometimes not even asking for advisory committee recommendations.”

“There’s no need for another opioid drug,” she said “there are already plenty of them.”

Mrs. Rummler detailed one of the successes of the coalition.

“The first thing we were advocating for was the rescheduling of hydrocodone combination products that were classified as a Class III drug,” she explained. “They’ve now been reclassified to Class II, which means that doctors cannot write refills for these drugs.”

“Addiction doesn’t discriminate by gender or by income level or by education level,” Mrs. Rummler warned. “It can happen to anyone.”

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Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s ‘Underground Interview’ series.

Be sure to check out all of AFP’s free audio interviews. You’ll find them on the HOME PAGE, ARCHIVES & AUDIO section.

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2 Responses to AUDIO INTERVIEW & ARTICLE: U.S. Opioid Epidemic Out of Control

  1. Stein says:
    You never said why you got those pain issues. There is of course help in the suppressed and fragmented alternative health sector. It will require your active interest to find the offer suitable for you, for all ad space is occupied with by Big Pharma. The youth’s need for escapism stems basically from eating the wrong food. Pollution and chronic food intolerances effectively shuts down people, and makes them do almost anything to get out of their own body. Just wait and see what happens when GMOs are all over the place. The need for sedatives will rocket—again.
  2. russell patten says:
    All these kids seeking a way to get high has screwed people like me, who, with every single doctor I have had, and pain clinics agree, I have to have opioids to maintain some quality of life. In the 15 years of dealing with this I have never ever asked for more than it said on my scripts. Sure I had my good days and my bad ones, but now since this bullsh*t has happened and my doctor passed away, it seems all the doctors will not even go by the Cal Pain Patient law that was written by Senator Green years ago and was passed. Now they have cut my meds in half, cost me so much money I can’t ever pay back, and take everything I had built up over the years. I have no quality of life at all, as it sucks to deal with pain 24/7. Try it soon, you will have no friends, no hobbies, as no one gets to deal with the pain all the time. When there is no reason NO ONE should have to be subject to this kind of pain and know there is a way I can be 95% better, but is withheld from us. The big reason why they passed the CA pain bill was because so many people could not take it and took there own lives. Believe me, I know the feeling. So now tell me, what do I do now, sit at home and have no life at all? That’s where I am at now and it is no way to live. Enough is enough!

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