Pubdate: Sat, 16 Apr 2016
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Press Democrat
Author: Richard Cleverly


EDITOR: Faye Flam's column about the opioid "epidemic" ("Doctors 
paved road to hell with pain pills," April 9) is unfair to patients 
who must deal with severe post-operative pain, particularly from 
major orthopedic surgery, or an unintended consequence of surgery 
such as pulmonary emboli, dubbed "heart attack of the lungs" because 
it is so painful. I can attest to both.

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Only opioids can relieve such pain, as Flam acknowledges, but at "the 
cost of 20,000 deaths per year," stigmatizing patients for whom the 
cost would be unbearable suffering without opioids.

Flam fails to mention that inadequate post-operative pain relief, in 
addition to causing undue misery, slows healing, as physicians 
discovered when prescribing inadequate relief was more the norm than exception.

Flam also stigmatizes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs by citing 
Vioxx, which was marketed even though Merck knew the serious risks. 
She doesn't mention other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories commonly 
used - such as aspirin - which pose no such risk.

Yes, pain and consequent suffering are part of the human condition, 
but failing to provide much-needed relief for fear of the relatively 
low risk of addiction or overdose is unconscionable.


Santa Rosa
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