September 9, 2016
Well, it only took two decades for Pfizer to admit that opioids are indeed addictive, even when they are used as prescribed. There is also no evidence that opioids are effective for long-term treatment of chronic pain, in spite of the clever and misleading marketing campaigns led by manufacturers.
Opioids cause up to 60 deaths per day in the United States. This shocking figure is part of what finally led to Pfizer’s concessions about their product’s lack of safety. The corporation has recently agreed to disclose that opioids “carry serious risk of addiction—even when used properly,” according to the Washington Post. The company has also agreed not to promote opioid use for off-label purposes that aren’t approved, such as for long-term back pain. Pfizer will also acknowledge that there is no good research on the effectiveness of opioids beyond 12 weeks of use.
Pfizer makes and markets only one opioid product, which is an extended-release product known as Embeda. When it comes to the opioid epidemic, Embeda has not played nearly as large a role as Purdue’s infamous OxyContin. Following a lawsuit by the city of Chicago against Purdue and several other Big Pharma corporations, Pfizer has chosen to willingly draft an opioid marketing policy. They weren’t named in the lawsuit, and there’s no admission of wrongdoing, so it’s very clear that the company is merely trying to “cover all the bases” if you will, and protect themselves from being sued too.
According to the Waking Times, “Chicago’s lawsuit and similar suits brought by Santa Clara and Orange County charge the companies with a two-decade conspiracy to profiteer on opiate sales.” The municipalities have charged a number of pharmaceutical corporations with spreading misleading information that minimized the risk of addiction and flat-out lied about the actual long-term efficacy of their products. Opioid manufacturers have also been charged with “buying the opinions of respected doctors.”
In spite of Big Pharma propaganda, most medical literature indicates that opioid painkillers do not in fact help workers return to work sooner. In fact, research shows that opioids seem to actually delay returns to work. For example, one study found that people who took opioids for at least seven days during their first six weeks of an injury were more than twice as likely to still be disabled and out of work one year later. Another study found that use of an early opioid in morphine-equivalent amounts equaling 450mg or more were disabled for approximately 69 days longer than those who didn’t take early opioids. A California study found that using high-dose opioids tripled time out of work, and led to delayed injury recovery.
For the last decade, Big Pharma has also perpetuated the myth that opioids are great for treating chronic pain, but research has revealed that this is simply not true. Pfizer has even come forward and admitted that there is no good research to indicate the drugs have any value after 12 weeks of use. Research has revealed that over time, opioids can actually make pain worse. The condition is called “opioid-induced hyperalgesia.”
Years ago, the idea of treating pain with narcotics was unheard of, but now it is commonplace. Despite their legal status, prescription opioids are really no different than their illicit counterpart, heroin. They are addictive, and they do kill people. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, in 2014 there were 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in the US. Of those deaths, 18,893 deaths were related to prescription pain relievers. Those statistics show that opioids are attributed to roughly 40 percent of all overdose deaths.
The organization also reported that according to 2014 statistics, 1.9 million Americans had a prescription painkiller substance abuse problem. Comparatively, 586,000 people had a substance abuse disorder involving heroin.
There are nearly four times as many people in this country abusing prescription pain medication than there are people using heroin, and yet for some reason, these drugs continue to remain perfectly legal. Can you believe that?