AG Eric Schneiderman On Crusade To Curb Prescription Drug Abuse -- And To Bum You Out In The Process
We're suffering from a severe case of the "blahs" today, and it's not because it's Monday -- it's because we just spent the last 30 minutes reading prescription drug horror stories on New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's website.
Schneiderman's on a quest to reduce prescription drug abuse in New York, where he says poppin' pills to get high has become an "epidemic."
As we reported a few weeks ago, Staten Islanders love prescription drugs. But the problem isn't exclusive to New York City's forgotten borough -- according to Schneiderman, it's a statewide problem, which is why he's pushing his I-STOP (Internet System for Over-Prescribing Act) as hard as he is.
Part of his plan, apparently, is to scare the ever-loving crap out of people who may consider using prescription drugs to get high. He's doing so by inviting victims of the epidemic to share their stories on his website.
Some of the tragic tales make Requiem For a Dream seem uplifting by comparison.
For example, take the story submitted by Avi Israel, of Buffalo, whose son committed suicide while in the clutches of prescription drug addiction.
"My name is Avi Israel, my son Michel David Israel committed suicide on June 4th, 2011. Michael took his life, in our home, less than 20 feet away from my wife and me. I lost my son because of a flawed health care system in this state. Michael was an extremely outgoing bright kid, who excelled in school, and was a very artistically talented person who was a pleasure to be around.
"At the age of 12, Michael was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. Which fought vigorously for the last 8 years of his life. When his Crohn's could not be controlled by traditional medicines and multiple surgeries, some of his doctors decided to start prescribing narcotic pain medication and mood altering drugs. This is where the current health system started to fail Michael, and it's failing countless others today. A system which allowed my son to be addicted to narcotic painkillers and psychotropic drugs that were prescribed to him by several different doctors without any one doctor checking what the other doctor was prescribing. Not only that, neither Michael, or us his parents, were ever informed or made aware that these drugs were synthetic heroin, and of the severe consequences of these drugs. Michael had a medically and socially sanctioned drug addiction.
"In January 2011, Michael came to us his parents, and told us he was having control issues with the pain medication. We informed his physicians of the addiction and were told that at this time, Michael needed the pain medication due to his illness and assured us that the medications would be monitored. In February 2011, with no other alternative, his physicians performed an ileostomy. Again while Michael was in the hospital, we notified his doctors of Michael's addiction problem. They assured us that Michael's problem would be taken care of before he leaves the hospital.
"After a 30 day hospital stay, Michael was discharged with 3 prescriptions for Hydrocodone. That was their answer to the problem.
"On Saturday, June 4th at 9:50 AM, Michael made a frightened, desperate call to his outpatient opioid counselor and asked for help. After a brief phone conversation, the counselor told Michael she would see what she could do for him and call him back. In 5 minutes and 47 seconds, she called Michael back and advised him there were no beds available, and he would have to wait until Monday. Knowing Michael's history and previous suicide attempt, the system yet again failed Michael.
"Michael walked to the back of the house and locked himself in my bedroom. Pulled out a shotgun and shot himself. I kicked the door open and held my son while he took his last breath. By 10:05 AM Michael was gone.
"What I see is a system where the patient is not the sole concern of the health care giver. Doctors do not check to see what other medications the patient is on, and pharmacies do not communicate with each other. Nor do they communicate with any particular doctor to warn them of what combination drugs the patients is taking, and who else wrote any particular drug to that patient. This is a system which allows doctors with no formal or ongoing training in recognizing and treating addiction, to write addictive prescriptions.
"I urge everyone to work together for a solution that will save other people from the same fate that became of my son Michael. When you lose a child, you lose your future."
If that story didn't send you spiraling into a deep depression, read some more of Schneiderman's prescription drug horror stories here.
The attorney general's I-STOP plan would create an online database for prescription drugs that he says will crack down on "doc-shopping" and forged prescriptions by giving pharmacists the technology to track prescription drugs in real time over the Internet.
He says a "real time system to streamline communication between health care providers and pharmacists" is essential to putting an end to prescription drug trafficking.
This morning, Schneiderman announced that the I-STOP plan has the support of 23 mayors and town supervisors from across New York, where he says prescriptions for narcotic pain medication has increased by six million between 2007 and 2010 (16.6 million to 22.5 million respectively).
For more on Schneiderman's plan, click here.
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