News & Politics

AG Eric Schneiderman On Crusade To Curb Prescription Drug Abuse — And To Bum You Out In The Process

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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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