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Forward Recovery psychologist comments on fallout of national opioid crisis

A major opioid lawsuit in national headlines this week alleges that drug manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, the Stamford, Connecticut-based maker of OxyContin, long turned a blind eye to suspicious orders and the addictiveness of their products. And Forward Recovery’s CEO said it will fall to doctors to help patients manage the fallout.
In a webpage outlining its lawsuit filed on behalf of plaintiffs who were hospitalized or died after overdosing on opioids, the Evansville, Indiana, law firm Woods and Woods LLC argues that instead of investigating enormous shipments of opioids to pharmacies and mounting numbers of opioid prescriptions from doctors, opioid manufacturers chased profits and ignored the resulting epidemic. Drug manufacturers, the firm said, have reportedly also been accused of paying kickbacks to doctors who promoted off-label opioid use. Purdue Pharma has been a particular target. The New York Times reported last year that the company in 2007 agreed to a felony charge of “misbranding” OxyContin in marketing the drug, misrepresenting its risk of addiction and potential to be abused. The company this week agreed to pay $270 million to settle a case with Oklahoma and avoid a televised courtroom trial. The Times further reported that more than 200,000 Americans have died in the past two decades from overdoses involving prescription opioids. CNBC reported this week that there were a record 70,237 drug overdose deaths in 2017, a 9.6 percent increase from 2016. CNBC added that experts project, based on provisional counts, that 2018’s death rate will be similar to 2017. If drug makers lied about the addictiveness of opioid drugs, Woods and Woods argued, some doctors may have been making uninformed decisions when prescribing the drugs and unwittingly led patients toward addiction. Dr. Renee Solomon, CEO and clinical director of Forward Recovery, an addiction recovery and treatment center in Los Angeles, called on medical professionals to help the thousands of people harmed by the opioid crisis. “Pharmaceutical companies claimed that these medications were not addictive yet they clearly are,” Solomon said this week. “What are they doing to help the people that are trying to deal with their opioid addiction? Are they funding treatment for these people? Are they helping them get linked up with treatment?” Doctors, Solomon said, must be vigilant about what they prescribe and how it affects patients. Furthermore, Solomon said, doctors should follow up on how much medication their patients are taking and shouldn’t prescribe opioid-type medications to patients with histories of addiction. “The train has left the station,” Solomon said. “So we now have to focus on how to help these people and where to go from here.”

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