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02/18/12

I do not for a minute believe that all pain can be successfully treated without opiates. However, I live in senior housing and more than half of the seniors here are clearly opiate addicts. One of them is on liquid morphine for fibromyalgia. Does that make sense to anyone? Others are using Oxycontin, morphine, and fentanyl patches simultaneously. These people are visibly impaired and there have been many OD's necessitating trips to the emergency room via ambulance. Two have died in the last year. A number of these people travel to physicians in as many as three counties to get multiple prescriptions. Doesn't Medicare have the ability to create software that red-flags multiple simultaneous prescriptions of opioids? It seems that people who want to abuse these drugs have no problem at all getting them while others who genuinely need them (in case you're wondering, I'm not one of them) report being unable to get them.

I suffered a serious orthopedic injury a few years ago and was given an opioid prescription from the emergency room physician, another a couple days later by an orthopedic surgeon and, when I told him I couldn't take that type, yet another -- all within the space of a few days. All were filled at the same pharmacy. I called the pharmacist to explain why and he was totally unconcerned. I ended up using one prescription for a few days and destroying the rest but the story could have been quite different.

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