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Johnson & Johnson Opioid Ruling

 

 

Johnson and Johnson ordered to pay Oklahoma $572 million for opioid damages.

 

Now, this sounds like a lot of money and it is… until you consider that in the early years of the opioid explosion, Duragesic, one of two opioids marketed by J and J, brought in over $500 million way back in 2001.  Let’s assume sales of opioids remained level from that point on. They haven’t but this will make the math easy.   That’s about 20 years of $500 million a year.  It’s more from 2011 on, about $800k per year.  But for easy math, let’s just say $15 billion has been made selling this one version of fentanyl to roughly 1 million people per month.

How it Started:

The conditions under which a drug like this is necessary is intractable chronic pain, that of cancer etc..  The rules of prescribing pain meds 25 years ago were quite restrictive and people in this situation suffered quite a bit.  A relaxing of the rules so that people in serious pain could get some relief was met with approval from the providers caring for people in this situation.

And then….

Unfortunately, with all things mandated to be paid for by a 3rd party, like drugs, college tuition, daycare in Minnesota, somebody’s going to come up with a way to rig the system….. to make a pile of money.

Johnson and Johnson certainly aren’t the only players to have figured out where to concentrate their sales’ team efforts.  There were others but they seem to have been the most savvy. They marketed only to doctors, who wrote 1,000 prescriptions for opioids per year.  They were responsible for the bulk of the market.  They just needed them to switch to J & J’s version, Duragesic.

The Manipulation:

In an even more dastardly plan Johnson & Johnson hired McKinsey and Company, a consulting firm, to increase sales.  They recommended they go after males under 40, since they were more likely to abuse their drug than anyone else.   J & J denied they did this in the Oklahoma court proceedings.

Ultimately, the court found Johnson and Johnson engaged in misleading marketing to maximize benefits and minimize risks.  As a result, 6,000 people died in Oklahoma alone, since the 1990s.    That’s a lot more than those dying from school shootings, heart disease, cancer or just about any other thing you can think of.

Where’s the outrage?  Where’s the protest?  The demands for Congressional action?   “Common sense” prescribing laws?  No more large capacity prescription bottles! ?????

You will just see this briefly reported on the news and then onto the weather.  Just another day in America.  Of COURSE people die from medications.  We expect it.  We do not even seem to be troubled by it.  The point for Oklahoma was for financial reparations.   And to be fair, the opioid prescriptive process HAS been changed.  So, the doctors ARE limited to no large capacity magazines if you will.   You can’t just fill a couple month prescription or endlessly be on opioids anymore.

The forces that brought this catastrophe upon our culture operate largely unphased.  Yes, $572 million is real money.  However, here’s the math in terms we can all understand:

If I had an income of $50,000 per year,

for the last 20 years,

was found to have killed 6,000 people making that $50k a year for 20 years, (that’s $1 million)

and then was fined, say…. $50k and I didn’t have to go to jail??

I’d be happy to pay the $50k!

 

That’s all this is.  The state is shaking down the drug company for some of its money to pay for some of the damage its money-making scheme caused in the state.   We all see it as the cost of doing business.  It’s true in opioids, it’s true in oncology, it’s certainly true in vaccine dogma…. Except those companies NEVER pay a fine.  Which is why there are currently 200 vaccines in development.  All profit, never liability.   Pretty soon all drugs may be called vaccines, just to avoid liability.

The situations that result in the need for opioids are mostly amenable to chiropractic.  Chiropractic however is not part of the insurance reimbursement system that would allow people’s health to recover enough to never need this level of medication.  The people that need this are already out of work due to their health.  Health plans typically pay for 6-10 visits to the chiropractor.  Nobody’s reversing their chronic pain in 2 weeks of going to the chiropractor… I don’t care WHAT exercises people do.

I saw a sign the other day:

“Your body isn’t Amazon.  It doesn’t deliver results in 2 days.”

That’s true!  In all things health, it is repetition over time.

  • If you eat like crap over time, you will pay.
  • If you exercise over time you will reap the benefits.
  • If you go to the chiropractor over time you will be immensely rewarded.

However, insurers are limited time propositions.  They aren’t in it for your health.  They are in it for higher premiums every year.  They NEED you to be sick and dependent on their stream of benefits.  They need you to tell others “Don’t lose your insurance!  Keep paying into the system because you will need it one day.”   That is the gospel truth if you live like our society teaches.  Our society, that has a 1st year infant survival rate near third world countries.  Our society, where if you are born today, you are not expected to live as long as your parents.  Parents who are being sold Long Term Care Insurance, because we EXPECT to be in a flippin’ nursing home!

This isn’t what you were put on planet earth for.  You were put on planet earth to be a blessing to others by doing what only you have been commissioned to do.  With the skills that only you, in the history of planet earth and humanity on it, have been gifted with.  For as long as you can do that.

Accepting the fearful message that you were born “broken” and need pharmaceuticals to live “normally” is tantamount to a cult.  But, we have that in America.  We have a cult of pharmacy.  A cult of disease worship.  Don’t believe me?   Guess who gets paid the most in America.  Those we worship and look up to.  Athletes?  Sure.   Actors?  Yep?   Doctors?   For almost a century one of the highest paid professions.  Right now the highest median income specialty?   It used to be the guys who did surgery for wealthy old white men with cardiovascular diseases and bad knees.  Both cardiovascular surgeons and orthopedic surgeons’ median pay is about $700k   Today however, radiation oncologists are our highest paid.  We fear cancer so much, we pay those people over $1 million per year as a median.

If you listen to Suzy Orman about wealth, she doesn’t recommend you ask poor people how to amass wealth.  So don’t listen to sick people or the people who make money off them, tell you about health.

Whatever they’re doing in the trailer park to try to become wealthy, do the opposite, their people are poor.

Whatever they’re doing at hospitals and WebMD to get people healthy… run away and do the opposite, their people are sick.

Lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle.  Not your genes.  (if it was your genes we’d all just eat at Dairy Queen every day.  Some of us will get sick, some won’t.  It’s not our fault.)

Lifestyle is:

Eat healthy most of the time

Exercise most of the time

Sleep with a normal pattern most of the time

Get adjusted regularly, most of the time

THAT will result in the best outcome and most likely, your ability to fulfill your goals, realize your dreams and grow old doing what you want to do –  to the very end.

Sincerely,

Testimonial

Here’s a heartfelt testimonial from a gentleman in a car accident who came in because we mailed him a postcard.  His name is withheld to protect privacy.  This man is 60+ years, fit and very active.

“Vibrant Life Center Testimonial

I make my living in marketing. And if there is one single buzzword we use all the time in our business, it has to be integrated; which means “various parts or aspects linked or coordinated.” In other words, when it comes to marketing, it takes a coordinated combo platter of platforms and programs for a business to be successful. The same is true of our health, and health care providers. It takes an integrated, multi-pronged approach, and a community of caregivers, for us to successfully manage our health.

This was driven home a few months ago as I was driving home from work. On a four-lane surface street, a driver having a medical emergency of some type, had passed out at the wheel, crossed over to my side of the street, and without braking or taking any evasive maneuvers, hit me nearly head on.

The jolt was big, as was the shock. At least physics had provided a little protection. My full-size pickup truck fared better than the other driver’s Honda Accord. And although a quick inventory yielded no broken bones and cuts, my head hurt, as did my neck and back.

I didn’t want to go in an ambulance, but I did want to get seen by an MD immediately, both for peace of mind, as well as for insurance documentation purposes.

The urgent care doctor, who happened to be the father of one of my son’s former classmates, said I was lucky, and that is wasn’t “too serious.”

I took the next couple of days off from work, and that’s about how long it took my home mailbox to fill up with brochures and letters from rehab facilities, personal injury lawyers and chiropractors. It’s kind of overwhelming and intimidating. You know you need some help, but what kind exactly? And from whom?

Fortunately, I am on really good terms with Google, and pretty soon I was filling my brain with information and testimonials and figuring out my next steps.

I had never been to a chiropractor, but my research was pointing me to one in particular, and I walked in to the Vibrant Life Center and a consultation with Dr. Barrett.

As a former D1 soccer player and life-long avid amateur athlete, I was impressed at the number of elite athletes, including Olympians even, Dr. Barrett has worked with.

Nobody wants to maximize their body’s potential more than an athlete, and his experience more reassured me, than impressed me.

I say reassured because I found a whole lot of negative stuff about the chiropractic profession online, and to be honest, it kind of made me a reluctant patient.

I shared some of the studies and stories that most stuck with me, and Dr. Barrett knew them all. He had a well-developed response to each of them, and patiently addressed my concerns.

He didn’t take offense to anything I had to say, and understood I simply didn’t have any personal experience to draw from when it came to forming an opinion about chiropratic care.

After the consultation, Dr. Barrett emailed me a number of gold standard clinical research studies to assuage my concerns.

One of the things that most impressed me about the Vibrant Life Center is their integrated (there’s that word again) approach to health and wellness. It includes not only chiropractic care, but diet and nutrition, massage therapy, targeted exercise, etc.

First though, we were going to go to the film. I really try to limit the amount of x-rays I undergo at the doctor and dentist offices, but Dr. Barrett assured me I could benefit from having a couple taken of my neck and spine so we could see what we were dealing with. And I can tell you, I didn’t like what we saw one bit.

On my neck x-ray, Dr. Barrett pointed out the discs that serve as cushions between the vertebrae. My C3 and C4 disc, between the third and fourth cervical vertebrae, were compressed and squishy, not plump like they should be. When a disc tears, or herniates, its gel-like center is pushed outward and can exert pressure on nearby nerves or the spinal cord.

And the lower part of my spinal cord also showed signs not only of this injury, but a previous injury. Dr. Barrett asked if I had ever been “hit” from the left side. I told him I had been broadsided on the driver’s side of my car by a drunk driver in another accident 10 years ago. He asked what treatment I received, and I told him I was basically uninjured. He said the words automobile accident and uninjured don’t really belong together in the same sentence.

The x-rays were very disturbing. When I look in the mirror, I see the same youthful guy I have been seeing for the past 20 years or so. But when I look at the x-rays, I see a high-mileage body with some significant wear and tear!

Dr. Barrett told me they couldn’t completely undo the damage of the accidents, and certainly couldn’t erase the years, but they for sure could help me repair and recover and get back to a place much better than I would be otherwise.

So I began a weekly regimen of adjustments on my neck and spine from both Dr. Barrett and Dr. Schoenecker, as well as a massage from Sylvia.

I began to feel increasingly better, until one fateful day two months into my recover that really set me back.

I was cleaning out the garage, and as I bent over to grab a 50-lb tube of sand, and move it, I knew l had goofed up. Specifically, I had a severe lumbar strain, a stretch injury to the ligaments, tendons, and/or muscles of the low back. The stretching incident results in microscopic tears of varying degrees in these tissues. Lumbar strain is considered one of the most common causes of low back pain, and it hit me big.

Just as it started to feel a little better though, I must have done something to it again, because the pain began to get worse. Much worse. For the first time in my life I experienced sciatic nerve pain. From my butt, down the back of my leg, and over to the nerves on the front of my right leg, next to the shin.

I tried everything, from my adjustments and massage, to heat, ice, stretching, swimming, hot tubs, a little exercise, no exercise, and on and on.

I couldn’t bike, run, go to the gym, or do any of my normal activities. In fact, as I attempted a walk around Lake Calhoun (I got about 200 yards), the pain was so bad I turned right around, got in my car, and drove to urgent care.

There wasn’t even any relief in the form of a prescription. The muscle relaxers the urgent care doc gave me didn’t work.

But he did give me some advice when I asked him what he thought of the chiropractic profession in general.

He said there are quacks, just like there are in any profession, and he said there are some who make outlandish claims, without the science to back them up, just like in other areas of the medical profession.

He then went on to say he has known some really good chiropractors, who are committed to helping their patients improve their lives. Bottom line, “use your own judgement based on your benefits. If you feel better when you leave there, great, make them a part of your caregiving community. If they’re not helping you get better, then stop seeing them.”

Eventually my pain stopped, and I was able to resume my normal active, athletic activities, relatively pain-free.

And I do always feel better when I leave Vibrant Life Center, physically and emotionally.

From the bubbly, enthusiastic, energetic greeting I always receive from Bridget at the front desk, to the adjustments from Drs. Barrett and Schoenecker, to the skilled massage therapy administered by Sylvia, I have been compassionately cared for by a loving little community called Vibrant Life.

There are others involved in that work…my spouse, my family, my primary care physician, the urgent care docs I have consulted, my Pilates trainer at the gym, a nutritionist who helped me with a gut cleanse, and so on. It takes an integrated, multi-pronged approach.

Integrated. That’s also a buzzword in medicine these days, and not just marketing. Integrative medicine puts the patient at the center of the care and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health…the patient and practitioner are partners in the healing process.

We all need committed, caring partners in life, and while I regret the event that brought me to their doorstep, I don’t regret my decision to make everyone at Vibrant Life Center partners in my recovery. ”

 

Most people are unaware, as was this gentleman, that if your injuries are caused by an accident, you have coverage from your auto insurance.  Even if you already have problems but they are aggravated. You’re still covered.  It works out better to take care of it right away.   This gentleman was concerned about the profession, the means in which he was introduced to our office, but took the time to patiently weigh the evidence and it worked out better for him.  No miracles.  Just a common sense approach to being healthy.

 

Dr. Barrett