On September 2018, 60 Minutes aired an interview with the infamous Dr. Barry Schultz to hear the doctor’s perspective on his July conviction. Schultz was found guilty of 55 drug trafficking charges. He’s no drug dealer in the stereotypical sense, however. He was a medical doctor who ran a highly profitable pill mill, as they call them, in Florida.
According to Dave Aronberg, pain clinics outnumbered the McDonald’s food chains in Florida between 2010 and 2011. There were 31 clinics on Oakland Park Boulevard alone. Dr. Schultz raked in $6,000 a day, and many other doctors are rolling in the dough too. The more prescriptions they write, the more wealth they gained.
How It All Began
Around 115 people die from a drug overdose daily in America. The CDC have reports that supports this. Unfortunately, the numbers keep climbing. These drugs are not illegal narcotics smuggled from Columbia either. They’re legal and attainable through a doctor’s prescription. A completely drug-free person may find the statistics hard to grasp. You’d have to get a breakdown of how opioids work to understand this phenomenon.
In the 1990s, prescription drugs were primarily believed to be safe treatments for painful conditions. What gradually came about, however, was unshakable dependence on these drugs.
Authors Kosten and George explain how the drugs attach to proteins called opioid receptors. Then there’s a pleasurable reward effect. This feeling is difficult to shake in many individuals, especially those who suffer from chronic pain.
Not only does the pleasure cause addicts to want more, they begin to build up a tolerance, thus requiring the need for higher doses over time.
As seen in the rising number of rehabilitation centers, the eventual addiction is quite difficult to kick. Many patients end up dying from an overdose or health issues that may have resulted from their prolonged opioid usage.
Overprescribing at its Worst
We often wonder why doctors continue to over-prescribe medications if they’re so harmful. Mother of Davin Tain, one of Dr. Schultz’s patients, blames the doctor for her son’s death. Evidence shows that he generously prescribed obscene amounts, such as prescribing over 1,000 pills to a pregnant woman. It’s obvious that the motive was wealth. Some other reasons may be the lack of training and education, the pressure to assist, and the affordability of such drugs. Population Health Management professionals have been able to track the amount of drugs given out, as well as the health and needs of patients. Population health management looks at the overall health of a population, and how it changes and are impacted by changes in the healthcare industry. What they’ve found is the current state of healthcare in America lends itself to the crisis.
Only recently has oversight been considered a major issue in prescribing opioids. However, only time will tell how beneficial these regulates will be at saving lives.
For instance, Ohio is ground zero in the nation’s opioid crisis. With the most opioid death tolls, trailing only West Virginia, Ohio may soon be the new face of the epidemic. Multiple bills have been passed in an attempt to curtail the rising number of casualties, such as House Bill 93, which eradicated pill mills. Still, Ohio climbs the charts. Perhaps the 2014 House Bill 341, which seeks to regulate “doctor shopping,” will soon have a noticeable effect.
It seems as if the opioid crisis may become worse before it blows over. There needs to be continuous pushing of non-addictive treatment and rehabilitation to see any significant change.