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Developing Solutions to the Opioid Epidemic

Developing Solutions to the Opioid Epidemic. Virginia Municipal League Annual Meeting October 6, 2019 Art Van Zee, MD Stone Mountain Health Services St. Charles clinic St. Charles, Virginia. Financial Disclosures: none. The Opioid Epidemic.

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Developing Solutions to the Opioid Epidemic

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  1. Developing Solutions to the Opioid Epidemic Virginia Municipal League Annual Meeting October 6, 2019 Art Van Zee, MD Stone Mountain Health Services St. Charles clinic St. Charles, Virginia

  2. Financial Disclosures: none

  3. The Opioid Epidemic • 1999 to 2010: Quadrupling of prescribed opioids • 1997 to 2011: 900% increase in people seeking treatment for opioid use disorder • Since 1999, almost 400,000 people have died of opioid overdoses • From 2002 through 2011, 80% of Heroin users reported use began with Rx opioids Learner AM. Opioid Injection in Rural Areas of the United States JAMA, September 17, 2019

  4. Three waves of the opioid epidemic CDC

  5. Virginia Fatal Opioid Overdoses Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

  6. The Prescription Opioid Crisis is brought to us by the Medical Profession & the Pharmaceutical Industry

  7. Physician Prescribing & Misprescribing • Legitimate physicians influenced by the changing narrative on pain management and by the influence of the pharmaceutical industry • The worst of market-place medicine—pill mills

  8. General narrative of the marketing campaign • There is an epidemic of untreated pain in the country • Trivialized the risks (“addiction is rare…..”) • Oversold the benefits • Promoted the idea that Opioids can be very effective for chronic non-cancer pain (80+ per cent of the opioid market)-----available evidence shows efficacy of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain is very limited

  9. JAMA, January 18, 2019

  10. Hadland SE, et al. JAMA (continued) “Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, across U.S. Counties, marketing of opioid products to physicians was associated with increased opioid prescribing and, subsequently, with elevated mortality from overdoses. Amid a national opioid crisis, re-examing the influence of the pharmaceutical industry may be warranted.”

  11. The complex litigation---what will it bring? • Big Pharma Is Starting to Pay for the Opioid Crisis. Make Those Payments Count. • Money from Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma could make a big difference — but only if it goes to the right places. • By The Editorial Board-----New York Times, August 28, 2019 • 1998 Big tobacco & 46 states agreement--$125 billion • paid over 20 years • In 2019, less than 3% nationally of the tobacco proceeds has been spent on public health matters related to tobacco use

  12. Maura Healey, Attorney General, Massachusetts • Editorial—Washington Post, Sept. 16, 2019 • Explaining why she & 24 state attorney generals are rejecting the proposed settlement by Purdue • Lack of accountability • Lack of justice • Lack of transparency

  13. What to do in Virginia if there possibly is settlement monies from the Pharmaceutical Industry? We need transparency & accountability----that the monies do go to prevention and treatment & aren’t siphoned off for other needs


  15. Whether there is pharmaceutical industry monies or not, we need to greatly expand treatment services in the Commonwealth of Virginia

  16. TREATMENT: TREAT ADDICTION • SAVE LIVES • SAVE MONEY • --an estimated $78.5 billion a year in health care, • lost productivity and involvement in criminal • justice system (NY Times Editorial, August 28, 2019)

  17. The Financial Burden of Substance Use in West Virginia in millions of dollars 2005 2008 Projected to 2017 Criminal Justice $276 $332 $496 Welfare $82 $346 Health Care $104 $125 $201 WV Workforce $9.9 $11.1 $12.3 WV Education $13.1 $16.2 TOTAL $563 $1,071

  18. Costs of Adult Incarceration—Lee County, VA Courtesy of Dane Poe, County Administrator

  19. Operation UNITE • April, 2003—Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-5thDistict)—worked to create Operation UNITE • Serving 32 counties in eastern Kentucky • Enhanced law enforcement • Enhanced treatment • 32 Community coalitions/Education • Youth, education, prevention activities

  20. UNITE: Treatment • Pays for substance abuse treatment for low income pts • Has provided $17.6 million in vouchers to enable more than 4,500 individuals to enter treatment programs thru April, 2019 • Provided $4.2 million to create 30 new Drug Courts (as of 2015) • $4.26 million in federal & state funding provided through UNITE for treatment facilities in Pike & Clay Counties (as of 2015)

  21. Efficacy of treatment for Physicians with substance use disorder • One study following 802 physicians in 16 state • physician health program • 19.3% failed the program • Five year follow-up: 78.7% licensed & working McLellan AT, et al. Five year outcomes in a cohort study of physicians treated for substance use disorders in the United States. Br. Med. Journal. 2008; 337: 1154-1156

  22. Opioid Agonist Treatment (MAT----Medication Assisted Treatment) buprenorphine (Suboxone) or Methadone IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR OPIOID USE DISORDER

  23. Buprenorphine treatment ---case study • “TJ”– 42 yowm, Harlan County, hard working construction worker, addicted to OxyContin, IVDA & had Hepatitis C • Entered into our buprenorphine treatment program early 2003 • Didn’t do well, relapsed, dropped out of treatment program • Re-entered treatment program 3 months later • Few lapses the next few months---then able to stop • Abstinent from all illicit drug use since 12/31/2003 • Has been working in the coal mines the last ten years • Has been able to be a good, responsible, & very involved father and husband • By himself, built a house for his family • Remains in treatment on Subxone 12 mgm daily

  24. Personal conclusions: • That the marketing of opioids, particularly OxyContin, played a major role in igniting the country’s tragic opioid crisis • That whatever happens with the massive litigation with the opioid industry, we must look at the story behind the story---and make changes in regulatory oversight and the ways in which the pharmaceutical industry can market abusable & addictive drugs. • That the most effective way to prevent a similar public health tragedy in the future would be to prohibit the marketing of any controlled drug. • Alternative means of education for health care providers---free of pharmaceutical industry influence—must be developed for protection of the nation’s public health.

  25. Personal conclusions (CONTINUED) • That we must establish evidence-base prevention programs in our school system • That we must make effective treatment readily accessible & affordable

  26. Further reading: • Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic. • Barry Meier. 2018 • Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America • Beth Macy. 2018 • American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts. • Chris McGreal. 2018 • Dreamland: the True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. • Sam Quinones • “The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triump, Public Heatlh Tragedy” • Art Van Zee, MD. American Journal of Public Health. February, 2009 • Massachusetts AGO Amended Complaint, Unredacted. January 31, 2019

  27. Thank you ! Art Van Zee, MD St. Charles Clinic Stone Mountain Health Services St. Charles, Virginia avzee@stonemtn.org

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