Protecting The Agonized From Addiction

Dave Killion — March 24, 2013

Many Americans must endure extreme, chronic pain because of their physicians’ caution in prescribing pain-killers (particularly opiates). In some cases, they are driven to violate legislation (‘break the law’) in order to obtain relief, sometimes suffering devastating consequences. It is difficult to blame the physicians, though, threatened as they are by the state. Well, as health care in the U.S. becomes increasingly state-controlled, Americans can look forward to worse –

“In the 23 years since he tried to break up a robbery in central London, Ian Semmons hasn’t spent a day without severe pain”… “Despite a similar standard of living, on a per-person basis, patients in the UK receive less than half the pain medication as their U.S. counterparts, according to the Drug Control and Access to Medicines Consortium, a UK academic research group that studies issues related to medicine and drugs.

And while the approach may anger patients like Semmons, British physicians say it’s helped their country avoid the wave of misuse and overdoses that plagues the United States.”

Perhaps, and perhaps not. But if so, do the benefits outweigh the costs? Can they be achieved without the costs? And as for these British physicians, are they the right people to make such a determination? I think not –

“(Dr. Anthony) Ordman says, “The physician (in the UK) has a salary … that takes away certain influences that the patient may have on the physician’s thinking. I don’t necessarily have to be liked by my patients.”

That is to say, when British physicians consider what the optimal policy is for painkiller prescription, their self-interest extends to protecting themselves from legal action and satisfying their paymaster, the state. Indifference to the patient has no consequences. So how strict will nanny be, once she crosses the Pacific? Well, you might wish to stock up on Tylenol –

“While you can walk into virtually any U.S. drugstore and pick up a bottle of ibuprofen or acetaminophen with 400 or 500 tablets, the largest size on UK shelves contains just 16 pills. If you consult a pharmacist and he or she approves, you can purchase 32 pills.

“We have to protect the patient,” says Howard Silver, a pharmacist at Gateway Chemist in London, who notes that even a moderate overdose of Tylenol can cause liver damage and even death. Shown a typical 400-count bottle of acetaminophen from a U.S. drugstore, Silver shook his head with dismay.

“I’m astonished,” he says. “That’s a bottle of death.”

Faced with such hysteria, I think I would be wise to familiarize myself with some extra-legal means of obtaining drugs I might someday want, but will not be able to get otherwise.

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