For all the countless patients who have benefited from the use of opioids, and I speak as one of them – this history of opioids and painkillers will not make for easy reading. It would appear to any unbiased observer that the drug has been hijacked by some groups who desire, not the restoration of health, or succor from pain, but the accretion of great wealth. This essay will focus on the opioid epidemic in the US and the greedy hand extended by Big Pharm in the genesis of the epidemic.
Our industry-niche is the marketing of CBD, and in particular CBDPure, oil obtained from the hemp or cannabis plant and which is closely related to THC – but significantly, is not narcotic. It could be argued that technically, it is therefore supremely unrelated to the opioids. In a sense, that is true but then both are used to treat pain. CBD, perhaps not with the same convincing success as an opioid, but it still has significant support.
Should this be your first visit to the site, why not also pay a visit to an enormously interesting essay on cannibis, titled ‘A Brief History of Cannabis in the World‘.
Meet Maximus your Mentor
So let us then consult with the clever Maximus, who is a survivor, as he calls himself, and who has definitely experienced acute and chronic pain. More importantly, he has the intellect to understand the Gestalt of the sometimes destructive products and information emerging from the pharmaceutical and medical spheres in this regard.
But first one should consider the history of the powerful drugs that really rule when it comes to painkillers: the opioids and the older drugs, like morphine, once classed as an opiate. They are the dark lords in the world of painkillers.
Opiates, obtained from the poppy, a plant that produces a glorious scarlet flower, have been part of our culture for thousands of years. The earliest findings go back to at least 5000 BC when the use of opium was widespread in Greece, Assyria, Egypt, India – and in the Roman, Persian and Arab Empires. It was the strongest painkiller available and was indexed in all the medical texts of those times.
What About Cocaine?
This essay is on opioids and painkillers, developed over the years from the source, opium and originally from Asia. What about cocaine from South America? Is it similar? This is important because the drug problem in the US is so complex and wide-ranging, the number of fatalities due to overdosing so colossal, that the ordinary citizen has become somewhat perplexed by the subject.
A look at the statistics will give some direction. 2017 drug overdose fatalities in the US amounted to 70,237. Of these, approximately 65% were caused by opioids and about 20% by cocaine. Another big killer were psychostimulants which accounted for about 10%.
Opium and cocaine do have one very strong similarity and that is their frightfully strong addictive ability. Both cause dopamine to be released that then bind to opioid receptors in the brain. However, their fundamental difference is that heroin is a depressant and cocaine a stimulant, as is the most addictive form of cocaine – crack.
The Cocaine family kills many thousands of people each year but it is a very big subject – as are the synthetics like MDMA, or Ecstasy – a psychostimulant and hallucinogen. These are substantial issues that cannot just be covered in a few paragraphs. Additionally, and thankfully, they are far removed from CBD.
Morphine, a very efficient painkiller, was developed from opium in the nineteenth century. Sadly, one of the burdensome horrors of the American Civil War were the number of morphine addicts that remained behind as token of the stupidity of war.
Many people are unaware that codeine was first produced from opium in 1830 and then later synthesized to become an extremely useful mid-range painkiller. It must never be forgotten that it too is highly addictive.
In 1837, in an attempt to find a less addictive painkiller than morphine, the German company IG Farben developed methadone. Clearly, their goal was not a success as many scientists believe that it is actually more habit-forming than heroin.
In 1874 the first of the really dangerous – what I like to call ‘Catastrophes’, was discovered, and that was heroin. Heroin is made from morphine by using chemicals that purify and acetylate it – it is deadly and is used by millions. Curiously, to an inhabitant of the 21st century – heroin, when first produced commercially by Bayer in 1898, was regarded as a wonder-drug.
Poppy cultivation continued to blossom. Afghanistan and Myanmar have always been prodigious producers of opium but because of its nearness to the US, Mexico entered the market and soon became the world’s third biggest supplier.
OxyContin et al
New painkillers came on the market with approval from the FDA: Vicodin in 1984, OxyContin in 1995 and Percocet in 1999. These were all synthetic opiates and were the progenitors of the epidemic that exists today. I am convinced that the FDA would have considered the fundamental benefit that would accrue to patients, desperate for relief from pain, and are appalled at the way unscrupulous scoundrels have made fortunes from these drugs.
Opioid Abuse in the USA
Opioid abuse has become a scourge in the United States. In 2017, the last year to show statistics, opioid overdoses killed more than 47 000 Americans. Internationally, Canada and Australian have also shown a spike in opioid overdoses.
It should be noted that 68% of the deaths involved a prescription or illicit opioid. The CDC and other government agencies allege that prescribing practices around narcotic painkillers have led to an increase in the number of people struggling with opioid dependency – more on this topic later. These people often turn to heroin, fentanyl, and other narcotics purchased illegally when they cannot find a source for prescription painkillers.
But it is the legal drugs, sadly, obtained legally, that are an absolute menace to the vulnerable – prescription medication such as painkillers and sleeping pills, even tranquilizers. All sourced from the vast pharmaceutical industry known pejoratively as Big Pharma. Between 1991 and 2011 painkiller prescriptions increased from 76 million to 219 million per annum. In the year 2016 the number grew to a figure > 289 million!
The legal narcotic that has done the most damage to the fabric of American society are the synthetic opioids, and in particular: Fentanyl. To give you some idea of its malignant potency – just 2mgs will very likely kill you. And herein lies great danger because many of the deaths occur during recreational use when rationality and common sense, even lucidity, have probably deserted the individual.
The Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic has demonstrated three distinctive thrusts. The first in 1991 when the medical fraternity, believing it to be of low addictive risk, welcomed the opioid with open arms and influenced by the pharmaceutical companies and medical societies, they prescribed it with enthusiasm. Originally it was prescribed almost exclusively for those with cancer pain but by 1999, the great majority of users were non-cancer patients, demonstrating the generous prescription practices of the doctors.
The next thrust of the epidemic began around 2010 when heroin use boomed. This was when the Mexican wave commenced, bringing in a cheap and freely available narcotic. Statistics from that time showed an almost 300% increase in deaths in the decade up to 2013 of heroin overdoses.
The final thrust started in 2013 when fentanyl appeared. This new opioid was largely responsible for a spike in 2016 when over 20,000 people died in the US from opioid overdoses. To recap, the figure for 2017 was >47,000!
The Involvement of Big Pharm
Socrates (470 BC – 399 BC) held that evil could only be done through ignorance. Alas, such a principled view of society is almost uniquely Socratic. Even our own beloved Jesus knew that Man was a deeply willful and sinful fellow. But there have been a number of court rulings against some drug manufacturers that still makes one wonder at the bare-faced greed of some people.
The first drug company to really feel the wrath of the law was Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, although it would be a mistake to shift the blame for the epidemic entirely onto them. It was the entire medical industry. The mass prescribing and collusion of lobbyists, federal regulators, hospital corporations, health insurers, drug distributors, who ensured that opioids became the default treatment for pain. I might add that the great majority of those mentioned, would unquestionably consider themselves as good and honest citizens.
In March 2019, Purdue Pharma the manufacturer of the opioid OxyContin, settled their lawsuit brought by the State of Oklahoma by agreeing to pay $270 million and the legal fees. Many believed that Purdue had got off lightly. Court documents show that the Sackler family, between 2008 and 2016, made > $4 billion from their involvement in Purdue. However, all is not lost, Purdue Pharma must still face approximately 1600 lawsuits. That has now all changed – see below.
State of Oklahoma v Johnson & Johnson
In June 2019, we read that the State of Oklahoma was also suing Johnson & Johnson for billions of dollars because of their manufacture of the artificial opioid fentanyl called Duragesic. This court case would also be closely followed by many in the pharmaceutical/business community as well as in the medical profession.
Then on August 26, 2019, Judge T Balkman ruled that Johnson & Johnson was culpable in helping cause the opioid crisis in Oklahoma and ruled that the corporate must pay $572 million to the state. This would have pleased Johnson & Johnson because it was 32.69% of the total amount of $17.5 billion claimed by the state.
The landmark ruling was the first in history to hold a pharmaceutical company accountable for the deaths of >6,000 people in the state.
In the US, other entities and states – led by Oklahoma, are adding up the costs associated with the epidemic. These are vast. For example: the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has calculated that the cost, just based on prescription drug misuse in a single year, 2013, added up to $78.5 billion. Oklahoma estimated almost $9 billion and Massachusetts, which included lost productivity in the sum, $15.2 billion in 2017.
It has been reported that a decision announced on the 15th of September 2019 – Purdue Pharma would be filing for bankruptcy. This was announced amid ingratiating claims by management that their deepest concerns were for the abatement of the epidemic. Which, when put into perspective of the recent history of Purdue and the Sackler family, merely demonstrated the manipulative nature of their behavior.
Was this solely a maneuver to escape with the bulk of the profits – the Sacklers had made billions from OxyContin and they would be counting on the short memories of executives of art galleries and research centers, and the public, who would likely soon forget how evil and greed forged a vast fortune that was the source of the Sackler bequests. These people are no better than drug dealers.
On the 2nd of October 2019, information was received of a perhaps small, but still major development in the Opioid Lawsuits Saga. Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay two Ohio counties a total of $20m and thus avoid the first federal trial – one of a series, that would establish corporate culpability for its role in the opioid epidemic.
The significance of the above information is that it will facilitate the more than 2000 other cases being seen favorably by the courts, resulting in billions of dollars in pay-outs by Big Pharm. This is good in one respect but will money ever take the place of the > 400,000 deaths caused by these cynical and greedy people?
Thus, it is clear from the preceding, that access to a narcotic or painkiller is, for an American, relatively easy. It is also clear that this ease of entry is doing immense damage. The problem with opioids is a simple one – the painkiller is extremely efficient at terminating pain, but of course, it is extremely addictive and will kill the inattentive.
Socrates would have been dismayed. Although, to be honest, everything about the utterly disgraceful nature of society, and in particular the greed, would have shocked him deeply. As a postscript: it would be foolish to think of Socrates as just an ancient fellow in a sheet with impossibly high ideals – and forget his legacy. He was without doubt, a giant of European culture and remains the Father of Philosophy.
Advantages of using CBD
What about CBD? How can something – apparently as mild as CBD actually be of any value in a brutal scenario such as this? Although I see myself as living proof of its efficacy, I have no wish to clash with the FDA on this matter by claiming that it is through CBD that I am relatively pain free. But then I too have been treated with opioids and therefore appreciate the level of expectation a patient would have with regard to their effectiveness. CBD works because its interaction with the ECS might be able to offer sufficient quantitative relief from pain and anxiety. In this regard, please read my essay titled, “Your CBD Mentor, CBD for the Elderly”.
There is an entire post on this subject: “Your CBD Mentor: CBDPure Hemp Oil”. It is most important that you read it. CBDPure arrived in my life quite by chance and as a gift, and that is the marvel that I often return to, again and again. A friend arrived from the UK with a bottle and I realized, not directly of course, but after a while when this wonderful tincture (as I call it) began to magically heal my body – or so it seemed to me. I especially noticed a rebalancing of my self – at times a great calm would envelop me and even my savage and notorious temper lifted and dissipated like the morning mist. My old limbs and joints appeared, to my eyes anyway, to have been given a touch 3in1 oil – they worked better. I even began to do the plank again with impressive results.
As I have said above, there are advantages to using CBD to ease pain. I personally use relatively small amounts on a daily basis – although at times, this can be dramatically increased. Note however, that no harm comes from taking large quantities of CBD. It has been shown, scientifically, that one can use 1500 gm without damage.
Remember that CBDPure’s responsibility as manufacturer does not extend to the medico-philosophical arena, although ethics of course, are critical to any manufacturer’s role in business, what I, Maximus, say, has no direct relationship with CBDPure’s views at all. I am just an affiliate marketer who admires their products and their extremely high production standards.
My very best wishes to you all,
Please note that the statements above, with reference to CBD and CBDPure have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have, and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.