Acupuncture found to be a safe and effective alternative to dangerous painkiller drugs in hospitals

Image: Acupuncture found to be a safe and effective alternative to dangerous painkiller drugs in hospitals
Source: NaturalNews.com
Earl Garcia
June 23, 2017

A recent study published in MJA.com.au revealed that acupuncture may serve as a safe and effective alternative to pain-relieving drugs for patients arriving at a hospital’s emergency room. As part of the study, a team of researchers led by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Australia that examined 528 patients with acute low back pain, migraine, or ankle sprains who were rushed to emergency rooms of various hospitals between January 2010 and December 2011.

The participants who rated their pain levels at four out of a 10-point scale received three types of treatment, which involved acupuncture alone, pharmacotherapy alone, or a combination of both. The study revealed that less than 40 percent of patients across all treatment groups reported significant reductions in pain after one hour of treatment, while more than 80 percent continued to have a pain rating of four. However, the research team noted that most patients rated their therapies acceptable after a treatment duration of 48 hours. According to the study, nearly 83 percent of patients in the acupuncture only-group said they would repeat the treatment, compared with only 78.2 percent in the pharmacotherapy-only group, and 80.8 percent in the combination treatment group.

“While acupuncture is widely used by practitioners in community settings for treating pain, it is rarely used in hospital emergency departments. Emergency nurses and doctors need a variety of pain-relieving options when treating patients, given the concerns around opioids such as morphine, which carry the risk of addiction when used long-term. Our study has shown acupuncture is a viable alternative, and would be especially beneficial for patients who are unable to take standard pain-relieving drugs because of other medical conditions. But it’s clear we need more research overall to develop better medical approaches to pain management, as the study also showed patients initially remained in some pain, no matter what treatment they received,” lead researcher Professor Marc Cohen quoted in ScienceDaily.com.

“Some Australian emergency departments already offer acupuncture when trained staff are available but further studies are needed on ways to improve pain management overall in emergency departments, and the potential role for acupuncture in this. We need to determine the conditions that are most responsive to acupuncture, the feasibility of including the treatment in emergency settings, and the training needed for doctors or allied health personnel,” Prof. Cohen stated in a separate article in DailyMail.co.uk.

More studies attesting to how acupuncture relieves pain

The recent study was only one of the many research indicating acupuncture’s efficacy in pain management. In fact, a meta-analysis published last year in MayoClinicProceedings.org revealed that acupuncture was among other complementary health practices that showed favorable results in alleviating common pain. To carry out the analysis, a team of researchers from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health reviewed 105 U.S.-based randomized controlled trials and identified treatment that will address one or more of five painful conditions including back pain, osteoarthritis, and neck pain as well as fibromyalgia, severe headaches, and migraine.

The research team found that acupuncture was highly effective in treating back pain. The study also revealed that the alternative treatment can be used in alleviating osteoarthritis of the knee. The results offer both patients and health providers information that is necessary for discussing non-drug approaches in pain management, the research team concluded.

Another study published in Health.USNews.com showed that acupuncture therapy was highly effective in relieving pain and improving the quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. According to the study, the pain scores of patients who received acupuncture had an average decline of 41 percent at 10 weeks. In contrast, those who received a simulated acupuncture treatment had a 27 percent reduction in pain scores.

Read More At: NaturalNews.com

Sources include:

DailyMail.co.uk

ScienceDaily.com 1

ScienceDaily.com 2

Health.USNews.com

MayoClinic.com

MJA.com.au

Big Pharma Prescriptions In Including Painkillers, Antidepressants Plummeting Seniors Turn To Medical Cannabis

Medical marijuana

Source: NaturalNews.com
David Gutierrez
July 26, 2016

Use of many prescription drugs has plummeted following the legalization of medical marijuana, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Georgia and published in the journal Health Affairs.

The researchers found that Medicare prescriptions fell for conditions that can be treated by cannabis, including anxiety, depression, pain, nausea, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders and spasticity. Prescriptions for other types of drugs, such as blood-thinners, remained unchanged. This led the researchers to conclude that legalization led directly to the changing prescription habits.

The drop in prescriptions led to a measurable decrease in Medicare spending in those states.

Limits Big Pharma price gouging

The researchers found that medical marijuana reduced Medicare costs by $165 million in 2013. If medical marijuana had been legal and available nationwide, the savings would have been about $470 million.

“We wouldn’t say that saving money is the reason to adopt this. But it should be part of the discussion,” said study co-author W. David Bradford.

The researchers are also analyzing the effects of medical marijuana legalization on prescriptions paid by Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for low-income people. Preliminary data from that study show an even larger drop in pharmaceutical prescription costs.

Much of the savings might come simply from the fact that insurance does not cover medical marijuana, which can cost a patient as much as $400 per month out of pocket.

“I have some trouble with the idea that this is a source of savings,” said Deepak D’Souza of Yale University, who has research medical marijuana but was not involved in the current study.

But Bradford believes that marijuana legalization does lower overall health spending, because marijuana is so much cheaper than many of the pharmaceuticals it displaces. This analysis is supported by Harvard Medical School emeritus professor Lester Grinspoon, who has written two books on the topic (but was not associated with the new study).

“There’s a limit to how high a price cannabis can be sold at as a medicine,” Grinspoon said.

Will DEA finally admit benefits of cannabis?

The lure of lowered health care spending may play an important role in an ongoing review by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which is considering reclassifying marijuana from Schedule I substance to a Schedule II.

A Schedule I drug is classified as having no medical benefits, and therefore doctors are prohibited from prescribing it and insurance will not cover it. Even in the 25 states (plus Washington, D.C.) where medical marijuana is legal, doctors can only write a referral to a dispensary.

Schedule II drugs (like narcotic painkillers) are permitted for medical uses. If marijuana were moved to this classification, insurance companies would be more likely to cover it.

The recent study suggests other major benefits that the DEA would also do well to consider. For example, many of the drugs replaced by medical marijuana use have dangerous side effects that are not a concern with cannabis. Perhaps foremost among these are opioid painkillers, which are relatively easy to lethally overdose on.

“That doesn’t happen with marijuana,” D’Souza said.

While marijuana can carry its own risks, increasing legalization would make it easier for scientists to carry out research that could guide responsible use.

But on a fundamental level, medical marijuana may simply challenge the medical-scientific model of health care by placing key decisions — and even production of the medicine in the hands of the patient.

“As physicians, we are used to prescribing a dose,” D’Souza said.

“Do you say, ‘Take two hits and call me in the morning?’ I have no idea.”

With natural medicine booming, hopefully more people will wake up to the fact that natural medicines, and foods, are in many ways superior to their lab-engineered alternatives. The health-supporting effects of fresh fruits, vegetables and all-natural superfoods simply cannot be beat.

Sources for this article include:
NPR.org

HealthAffairs.org

How Government Enables The Opioid Epidemic & Tax-Payers Help Fund It

Pills Prescription Painkillers - Public Domain

Source:Mercola.com
Dr. Mercola
March 16, 2016

We are in the middle of an opioid and heroin epidemic, which is killing ever increasing numbers of Americans at an astonishing rate.

In 2014, almost 30,000 people died from heroin and opioids (also called narcotic prescription painkillers), exceeding those who died from car accidents during the same year, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1

Prescriptions for opioids have risen by 300 percent over the past 10 years and fed the heroin epidemic as the tolerance of opioid addicts surpasses their allotted prescription dosage and/or they are no longer allowed to refill their prescription.

In April of 2015, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also noted that “Controlled prescription drug abusers who begin using heroin do so chiefly because of price differences.”2

Most people know there is a prescription painkiller epidemic underway but few realize how much the government is enabling it,  how much taxpayers are subsidizing it, and how this is the root cause of the current heroin epidemic.

Conflicts of Interest Color Pain Treatment

In February, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote a letter to Sylvia Burwell, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), about the glaring conflicts of interest at the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, convened as part of the Affordable Health Care Act3 to improve pain-related treatment strategies.4

Questions began to arise when members of the panel objected to federal suggestions that doctors reduce opioid prescriptions for chronic pain.5 According to the Associated Press, conflicts at the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee include:

“[T]wo panelists work[ing] for the Center for Practical Bioethics, a Kansas City group which receives funding from multiple drugmakers, including OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, which donated $100,000 in 2013.

One panelist holds a chair at the center created by a $1.5-million donation from Purdue Pharma. The other has received more than $8,660 in speaking fees, meals, travel accommodations and other payments from pain drugmakers …

A third member of the panel is a director with the U.S. Pain Foundation, a nonprofit that receives most of its funding from drugmakers, including a $104,800 donation from Purdue Pharma in 2014, according to IRS Records cited by Wyden.

Two other panelists are connected to the American Chronic Pain Association, another nonprofit that receives substantial funding from drugmakers, including Pfizer Inc., AstraZeneca Plc, Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. and AbbVie Inc.”

Big Pharma Money Responsible for Loosening US Drug Policies

The panelists, who appear to be foxes guarding the hen house, are not the only experts developing drug policies while taking opioid makers’ money.

In 2009, the American Geriatrics Society changed its guidelines to recommend “that over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, be used rarely and that doctors instead consider prescribing opioids for all patients with moderate to severe pain.”6

Half the panel’s experts “had financial ties to opioid companies, as paid speakers, consultants or advisers at the time the guidelines were issued,” reporter John Fauber writes.

The University of Wisconsin’s Pain & Policy Studies Group also took $2.5 million from opioid makers even as it pushed for looser use of narcotic painkillers.7

Federal officials have also been intensely lobbied by a drug company-funded group called IMMPACT whose stated goal is “improving the design, execution, and interpretation of clinical trials of treatments for pain.”8,9

For a fee that could be as high as $35,000, IMMPACT promises to get drug company representatives into invitation-only meetings of government officials and academic leaders, often at elegant places, where they can lobby NIH researchers and FDA officials one-on-one.

The public and press are not included in the meetings, which date back to 2002. Both Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, and Janssen, which makes the opioids Duragesic and Nucynta, have acknowledged the value of IMMPACT.10

Many Opioids Makers Rely on Taxpayer Funded Programs for Profits

According to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the HHS, spending on opioids in the Medicare system, which of course is funded by our tax dollars, grew at a faster rate than spending for all drugs. It writes:11

“Between 2006 and 2014, spending for commonly abused opioids grew from $1.5 billion to $3.9 billion, an increase of 156 percent …

Growth in spending for these opioids outpaced both the growth in spending for all Part D drugs (which grew 136 percent) and the growth in the number of beneficiaries receiving Part D drugs (which grew 68 percent).12

The total number of beneficiaries receiving these opioids grew by 92 percent, compared to 68 percent for all drugs, while the average number of prescriptions for commonly abused opioids per beneficiary grew by 20 percent, compared to 3 percent for all drugs.”

Clearly, not only are many Medicare recipients receiving opioids (no doubt thanks to groups like the American Geriatrics Society) they are receiving multiple prescriptions for them.

Even more concerning is the fact that many Medicare patients are being prescribed opioids for reasons other than cancer pain or terminal illness, the traditional uses of these strong medications according to published source.13 In some states over 40 percent of Medicare patients receive opioids.14

Government Paid-For Over-Dispensing of Opioids Is Widespread

According to the OIG, thousands of pharmacies are believed to be over-dispensing opioids within the Medicare system and likely involved in fraud.15

At least 1,432 retail pharmacies showed questionable activity, including 468 that had triple the average percentage of prescriptions for commonly abused opioids.16 In the case of one pharmacy, reports the Detroit News:17

“58 percent of the prescriptions it billed to Medicare’s program were for commonly abused opioids, compared with the nationwide average of 6 percent. The pharmacy billed opiate prescriptions for 93 percent of the Medicare patients it served last year …

Pharmacies with high percentages of prescriptions for narcotics raise flags about potential billing for extra drugs that are never dispensed and diverted for resale, or otherwise used inappropriately, according to the report.”

Medicaid programs, also supported by taxpayers but administered by states, also reveal excessive opioid use and probable fraud.18 In 2010, 359,368 Medicaid enrollees received an opioid prescription amounting to over 2 million prescriptions and again suggesting many prescriptions per patient.19

In 2009, 41.4 percent of Medicaid-enrolled women filled an opioid prescription compared with 29.1 percent of privately insured women, offering further proof that opioid makers are relying on public funds for their sales and profits.20

Millions of Tax Payer Dollars Used for Opioid Prescriptions

While Medicaid programs likely provide generic combinations of the active ingredient in OxyContin, hydrocodone, to patients, which cost about $28 for a 120-day supply (compared with $632 brand name OxyContin),21 taxpayers are still paying at least $56 million for Medicaid opioid prescriptions.

The cost of the opioid prescriptions does not take into consideration state-run drug treatment programs and services that are required if and when enrollees become addicted.

In December 2015, Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, settled an ongoing lawsuit brought by the state of Kentucky for $24 million over presenting OxyContin as “nonaddictive.”22 Purdue contended that the pill slowly releases the drug over 12 hours when swallowed, omitting the fact that, when crushed, OxyContin lost its time release protections and created an instant high.

“State officials said that led to a wave of addiction and increased medical costs across the state, particularly in eastern Kentucky where many injured coal miners were prescribed the drug,” reported the Associated Press. (Purdue substituted an abuse-deterrent version in 2010.)23

The 2015 settlement is similar to one Purdue Pharma agreed to in 2007 with the state of West Virginia, when it agreed to pay out $634 million for “fraudulent conduct caused a greater amount of OxyContin to be available for illegal use than otherwise would have been available.”24

Continue Reading At: Mercola.com

Health Officials Demand Black Box Warnings on Opioid Painkillers

pills painkiller white 735x350
Source: NaturalSociety.com
Julie Fidler
Christina Sarich

Public health directors across the United States are pressuring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put a “black box” warning, the agency’s strongest warning, on prescription painkillers and sedatives. [1]

The demand, which comes in the form of a petition, comes as cities and states grapple with a growing epidemic of painkiller abuse.

The officials write in the petition submitted Monday:

“Only a few labels and medication guides contain specific information on the dangers of concurrent use of these two classes of medications; none contain black box warnings.”

The health directors want the warning to read:

“WARNING: CONCURRENT USE WITH BENZODIAZEPINES [replace with OPIOIDS on benzodiazepine labels] REDUCES THE MARGIN OF SAFETY FOR RESPIRATORY DEPRESSION AND CONTRIBUTES TO THE RISK OF FATAL OVERDOSE, PARTICULARLY IN THE SETTING OF MISUSE.” [2]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that opioid overdose deaths rose to nearly 19,000 in the United States in 2014, the most recent year on record. The prescription painkillers have also played a role in a wave of heroin overdoses in recent years, which is cheaper and easier to access than opioid drugs.

opioiddeaths
Photograph: National Institute on Drug Abuse

A study published last week in the American Journal of Public Health shows that overdose deaths have been soaring among Americans who use benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” a class of sedatives that includes Valium and Xanax. Researchers found that the death rate from overdoses of the drugs increased more than 4-fold since 1996. Benzo overdoses accounted for nearly 1/3 of the 23,000 deaths attributed to prescription drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2013.

Health officials noted in the petition that benzodiazepine-opioid combinations are especially deadly, and they are frequently prescribed together. For example, it is common for doctors to prescribe an opioid to a patient with acute pain, along with a benzodiazepine to treat muscle spasms. Often, an opioid is prescribed to treat pain alongside a benzodiazepine to treat a patient’s anxiety disorder.

Continue Reading At: NaturalSociety.com