Opioid addiction has become a hot topic in recent years.

Residents in Ste. Genevieve County have been exposed to a considerable amount of information on the topic.

Nicole Browning, former St. Louis-area counselor for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA), spoke twice in Ste. Genevieve to warn of the dangers of overprescribing by doctors and dentists.

Meanwhile, attorney Jack Garvey of Carey, Danis & Lowe spoke with the County Commission  three times in 2018 and 2019 regarding a pair of large lawsuits being filed against Purdue Pharma and other entities regarding their role in precipitating the opioid crisis.

Garvey also talked of physicians and dentists — having been misled by what he said was a deliberate disinformation campaign by Purdue Pharma and other companies — grossly overprescribing opioid painkillers.

The widespread concern led to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention publishing a guideline for prescribing opioids for chronic pain in March 2016, recommending opioids be prescribed for shorter durations following surgeries and dental procedures.

Since then, there has been a strong pushback against the adoption of these guidelines. Horror stories have sprung up about dying cancer patients being denied pain medication and committing suicide. Organized “Don’t Punish Pain” rallies have been held in several states.

According to a report by the Boston Globe Media’s Statnews, “pain patients have experienced increasing difficulty getting needed opioid medication due to denials by pharmacists and insurance providers.”

It mentioned “physicians, who practice in fear of regulatory reprisal.”

The website reported that many states, misinterpreting the CDC guidelines, passed laws on painkiller prescriptions severely more restrictive than the CDC intended.

“Today, in more than half of U.S. states, patients in acute pain from surgery or an injury may not by law fill an opioid prescription for more than three to seven days, regardless of the severity of their surgery or injury,” it stated.

NO ISSUES REPORTED IN MISSOURI

Neither the problems nor the pushback appear to have manifested themselves in Missouri — especially in this part of the state.

Brandon Costerison of the NCADA St. Louis office [Browning is no longer with the organization], stressed that Missouri doctors are not limited by any new regulations.

 “The thing is, there are new guidelines that have come out on when a doctor should prescribe pain medication,” he said. “But there are no rules that prevent doctors from doing anything they want. There are no actual limits on how many opioids a doctor can prescribe.”

Dr. Matthew Bosner, head of the addiction clinic and addiction services at Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital (SGCMH), believes that assessing an individual patient’s needs is the best way to avoid the two extremes of the spectrum.

“We really work on being sensitive to individualizing our care,” Bosner said. “There has been a lot of discussion in the medical community, as well as guideline recommendations from various societies, specifically the pain management societies as well as the CDC, that all physicians and providers need to be attentive to the appropriate indications for management.”

See complete story in the July 10 edition of the Herald.