I read The Herald’s Feb. 6 editorial on the lawsuit against Purdue with interest. Since I was personally mentioned in your editorial I hope you will permit me the opportunity to point out one or two misleading or incorrect statements made therein.
I was a certified pain specialist, seeing an average of 20 patients per day, five days per week. These patients were referred to me by their primary care providers specifically for pain management, and every one of them was already taking opioids regularly. These were patients for whom every other alternative treatment modality had failed, and at the time there was already a growing anxiety amongst physicians concerning the risk to their licensure of opioid prescribing, so they prudently chose to refer to a specialist whose entire focus was opioid pain management with expertise in addiction management as well. Although the amounts of medication quoted in the article seem excessive, it is not surprising considering I was seeing “26 times” the number of pain patients that a normal practitioner saw.
These patients were compliant with treatment, functional in life as a result of access to effective pain relief. They were monitored for diversion using random urine tests and the state’s prescription medication computer monitoring system.
With regard to Purdue Corp., the document alleges some kind of nefarious connection between Purdue and myself and made some specific false claims. At no time did Purdue representatives ask or “recruit” me to promote their product to anyone else. At no time did they pay me or reward me with any inducements of any kind for my use of the product, Oxycontin, which most physicians (and patients) agree is one of the most effective pain relievers on the market due to its low incidence of nausea, itching, drowsiness so common with other meds. It was never my first choice due to its exorbitant expense. To my mind Purdue is culpable of criminal negligence for their behavior in California which specifically hurt Everett. See www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-oxycontin-everett for the details.
Now, the backlash against using opioids (including a vendetta declared by the governor against opioid prescribers, scapegoating me personally) has reached the point that thousands of suffering patients are denied effective pain relief and must withdraw into lives of misery, in many cases bedridden, depressed and despondent because no practitioner in Washington now feels she can prescribe opioids chronically for anyone.