Zohydro, Zobel, Zogenix, Zealots, and Zoro
In the state famous for rebuking taxation without representation, a Massachusetts court on Tuesday (4/15) struck a blow against another overreach of power by government – this time by Gov. Deval Patrick. In doing so, a U.S. District Judge ruled the governor had overstepped his authority in banning a FDA-approved prescription medication (in this instance Zohydro ER) for people in debilitating chronic pain.
Watching Governor Deval Patrick be so human, warm and even add some humor at an otherwise somber tribute to the Boston Marathon victims and survivors, it was difficult to reconcile that persona with the one who would attempt to restrict access to a pain medication that might otherwise alleviate suffering. Indeed, it got me to thinking – how many of the survivors were treated with hydrocodone after the blast ripped their flesh and tore their limbs for the treatment of their acute pain? How many are still benefitting from short acting hydrocodone having transitioned to chronic pain? (although they might live from dose to dose, withdrawing or suffering in between doses I imagine) Or how many might benefit from a switch to Zohydro ER to smooth all that out, allow them to sleep, to function, to engage in the rigorous physical therapy and rehab they still need to do? Governor Patrick would deprive THEM of this access?
Make no mistake about it: this country finds itself in a war over the legitimate rights of people with chronic pain to have access to all approved medications that can help them achieve some measure of quality of life and dignity. In various states, patients are plagued with the monthly pharmacy crawl wondering about needlessly as nomads in the desert seeking out a single pharmacy to fill their prescriptions as seen on previous blogs, Dancing to the Pharmacy Crawl for Opioids and Kentucky’s Pharmacy Crawl. Word of Tuesday’s victory – albeit only a preliminary injunction against the governor’s proposed ban of Zohydro ER – will spread throughout the country like locusts and into the halls of Congress in Washington DC.
The only question remaining for other state governors and attorneys general and some members of Congress who want to follow Gov. Patrick’s efforts on Zohydro ER is whether their stated interest and battle plan to protect citizens from abusing powerful drugs and allowing opioid pestilence to trump the facts on how best to achieve their outcome. In fact, increased heroin use among Massachusetts constituents does not justify the action by Gov. Patrick. Commensurate with the season, patients enslaved to persistent pain might otherwise need to flee their homes in a hurry before the plague of heroin abuse has time to rise to the next level.
As I wrote in my “Truth or Dare” blog Monday, the statements that Gov. Patrick and still others have used to vilify Zohydro ER don’t match the facts, all of which can be reviewed on that post, nor does the Boston survivors’ suffering end even with the closure attempted at by the public recognition of the anniversary of their becoming chronic pain patients. It’s easy to be anti-opioid when you dehumanize the sufferers and think of them as drug-seeking slaves or drug-abusing wimps or thugs. Not so easy, when you are talking about denying a medication to a hero. We are a fickle society, defining winners and losers so arbitrarily. The Boston Survivors didn’t choose a life of chronic pain and suffering to ennoble themselves, yet they have been ennobled. Fibromyalgia sufferers and others with chronic pain are no less heroes for facing every day, facing the abuse and indignity that is heaped upon them. They deserve access too. Indeed they deserve a medal for the marathon that they run daily.
If gubernatorial or senatorial offices continue to act as the Angels of Death to downtrodden patients with persistent unrelenting pain that enslaves their lives daily, slaying the innocent by marking their doors for depression, anxiety, and suicidality, I’m afraid we’ll be plagued by far more than opioid pestilence nationwide. Governor, please ennoble all patient nomads…enable them to have the treatment they deserve. Let them go to the pharmacy with dignity. Let them be. Let our people go!
As always, comments are met with enthusiasm!