Wisconsin, Minnesota AGs team up to take on painkiller abuse

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota and Wisconsin are teaming up to tackle prescription painkiller abuse.

The attorneys general from both states met at the Minnesota Capitol Monday to discuss their “Dose of Reality” campaign. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson says prescription opioid deaths now outpace heroin overdoses nationwide.

Their campaign includes a startling public service announcement featuring a mother who can’t wake her son who has an open pill bottle nearby. Both officials are asking movie theaters, TV stations and more to air the video. Each state’s website has an interactive map so residents can find locations to safely dispose unused medication.

The campaign is new to Minnesota. Wisconsin launched its own program in September 2015.

18 comments

  • Candi

    Opioid prescription deaths. Are these opioids taken with other drugs or alcohol? Are these opioid prescriptions intended for the person taking them? Statistics show people on opioid medication use them responsibly as prescribed. And the actual addiction rate is extremely low..
    Chronic pain is an epidemic, it is a chronic illness and needs to be treated as such. These medications are needed to lead a halfway normal life. We are being descriminated against because of an illness and a need for these medications. Look at the real statistics, the real facts. Instead of placing the blame on doctors who try to treat our chronic illness.

  • PainedLivesMatter

    Let’s face what the real problem is, It is NOT legally prescribed pain medication, HEROIN AND ILLEGAL FENTANYL is what is flooding our streets. The CDC continues with their false statisitics, they even admit to MISCLASSIFYING heroin deaths as a death to rx pills. The propaganda BS the media continues to feed the public is devastating to those who suffer from chronic intractable pain from debilitating incurable diseases! Are you even aware that because of the INHUMANE AND BARBARIC actions by the CDC, DEA, PROP and our corrupt lawmakers, hundreds of thousands, millions even of innocent law abiding chronically ill citizens are being abandoned by the medical community, they are having thier LIFESAVING PAIN MEDICATION lowered to ineffective doses or are being abruptly cut off, discharged thru no fault of their own, but because of the government and the DEA targeting all drs nationwide who continue to compassionately treat their chonic pain pts with the LIFESAVING pain medication they require to have some quality of life?!?! Are you aware that many legit pain pts are being FORCED TO SUFFER?!? are you aware that many legit pain pts are being left with two options, turn to the streets for relief getting god knows what or SUICIDE?!?! The CDC along with Mr. Kolodny from PROP are on a one way mission to have opiods removed off the shelves, leaving those who suffer in unbearable pain to exist in a torturous hell. Every day the statisitcs change. The CDC inflated the overdose deathrate, even admit to doubling and tripling deaths, to fit the governments addiction driven agenda. Legitimate pain pts are stigmatized as addicts, pill seeking junkies and treated like criminals. The DEA is further restricting production of opiods this year. As more and more legitimate pain pts are being taken off the lifesaving meds they require to have a QUALITY OF LIFE, the suicide rate is going to skyrocket. This past weekend alone I have read about 15 pain pts who took their lives due to abandonment by the medical community, the pain to overbearing to take. What kind of country are we living in that allows the chronically ill to suffer in unbearable pain until they take their lives?? We treat animals better in this country!! I suggest you journalists do some soul searching, do your job and report facts and truths instead of the propaganda BS you continue to feed the public. Goggle this petition, one of many, over 31K heartbreaking stories and growing from legitimate pain pts being forced to exist in a torturous hell. Petition2congress first do no harm. The CDC and their very biased guidelines is devastating to the pain community. Our VETS who come home wounded with missing body parts are being DENIED LIFESAVING PAIN MEDICATION,our Senior citizens whose bodies are crippled in pain are being DENIED LIFESAVING PAIN MEDICATION, people of all walks of life who have debilitating incurable diseases that cause severe never ending pain are being DENIED LIFESAVING PAIN MEDICATION. you see, when the CDC records their statistics, they label deaths as a death to rx meds, when that is NOT true. Many of those overdoses were heroin or illegal fentanyl, or if someone was abusing pills OFF THE STREETS, and they mixed it with other illegal substances or alcohol, the CDC labels that death as an rx death. Please educate yourselves, go to painnewsnetwork.org where you will find THE TRUTH AND FACTS behind the witchhunt the CDC< DEA and the government are committing. Not one of you media outlets care to report on behalf of the chronically ill, those who take their meds responsibly, who are NOT addicts, but PATIENTS! Alcohol kills way more people than legally prescribed opiods, and yet not one word. No prohibition of alcohol in this country, makes to much money and the government knows dam well the deathrates where alcohol is involved far outweigh the deaths by legally prescribed opiods. I wonder just how many in our government and or their loved ones who are DEPENDENT, NOT ADDICTED, BIG DIFFERENCE THERE, on opiods for a quality of life! But they are not put thru the hell "we the people" are put thru. They have their private doctors and pharmacies on speeddial. Perhaps if the DEA did their job and actually went after the drug cartels that are flooding our streets with HEROIN, the deathrates would be much lower, but they do NOT, instead they continue to attack our drs and innocent law abiding chronically ill citizens. Chronic intractable pain does NOT discriminate and it can happen to anyone. Chronic intractable pain KILLS when left untreated. Emergency rooms nationwide are also turning away pain pts. Treating them like drug addicts and refusing to offer them pain relief. There have been many pain pts who died right in the hospital parking lots due to the negligence of ER drs. For once, you journalists should try doing some deep investigating, or how about listening to the voices from legitimate pain pts and the torturous hell they are being forced to exist in!!!!!

    • mary

      To PainLivesMatter,,,,,,,,,couldn’t of said it better myself,,,your truth sound exactly what I write,,and THANK GOD,, the truth is slowly,to slow,,getting out!!!!!!!!The United States Government as a government entity has willfully committed thee act of torture and genocide onto the medically ill w/painful medical condition..The definition ,the legal definition of torture is,any government entity who willfully causes severe physical pain onto another human being by denying them access to effective medical care or who willfully inflicts severe physical pain for information to a 3rd party,by forcing all CPP to see a shrink,ie,3rd party,for information,ie,forced to talk to a shrink and NO medicine to effectively lessen physical pain from medical illness,,THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE u.s. government,,,IS DOING,THUS,THEY ARE IN FACT LEGALLY COMMITTING TORTURE ONTO THE MEDICALLY ILL,,,AND TORTURE CARRIES A LIFE SENTENCE IN PRISON,,,RIGHTFULLY SOO,,,jmo,,maryw

  • David Wieland

    Hmm they might want to talk with the CDC which just admitted that the data they used and claims they made about prescription opiates were actually false. The majority of overdose deaths are the result of Illicit fentanyl (Manufactured in laboratories in China, Bought by the cartels and shipped into our country) and Heroin. They found in toxicology reports here In Massachusetts 2015 / 2016 overdoses 74% Fentanyl, 63% Heroin, 50% Benzodiazepene, 30% Cocaine, and 19% prescription opiates. But hey keep spreading the false data and lies it must be hard doing actual journalism

  • Je

    Please stop publishing fake news, do some research before publishing. The problem is not prescription pain killers the problem is herion and illegal fentanyl. STats show almost no deaths from abusing prescribed pain medications.

  • Ann

    This article does not name the biggest problem which is heroin laced with fentanyl. I have severe chronic pain every minute of every day. I have attempted suicide due to the tortuous pain. The doctors will not prescribe opiates any more thus I have had to control my pain in ways I cannot reveal. I am not a junkie, addict or pill shopper. I am a 61 year old grandmother just trying to live out the rest of my life with some quality of my life. 43,000 people committed suicide in 2014 due to having to live in torturous pain and not able to obtain any pain medicine for relief. The opiate problem does not relate to true pain sufferers. Once again it is all about money. Our health care is now being run by the big pharmacy companies, the health insurance companies and our government. The doctors hands are tied. This is a huge injustice to thousands of chronic pain patients who are being forced into torture every minute of every day.

  • Joanne O'Brien

    Chronic pain patients are suffering because they are being denied access to the opioid medications that could restore some quality of life to them, meanwhile the overdose deaths continue to rise. In New Hampshire, some of the harshest laws restricting and monitoring opioid prescriptions and monitoring legitimate pain patients as if they were criminals (utterly humiliating) have been instituted. And do you know what has happened since those laws went into effect?

    Overdose deaths have continued to rise. Legitimate pain patients were never the problem. The problem is the amount of illegally produced drugs, especially heroin and fentanyl, that continue to flood the streets. Recently there has also been a sharp increase in seizures of cocaine and meth, indicative of people wanting to get high by means available. (By the way, if you are in pain, opioids do not provide a “high,” they merely diminish the pain level.)

    When will the government realize that you can’t solve the problem of people, especially young people, taking illegal drugs by focusing on legitimate doctors and chronic pain patients? The community of chronic pain patients has seen a spike in suicides, but more often, we hear the pleas of those who are suffering in unrelenting pain, each and every day of their lives. When will the government officials admit that their entire approach to the problem is a dismal failure?

  • Tracey

    I wish journalists would step up to the plate and investigate what all these recent restrictive regulations (state and fed) regarding the prescribing of opioids, which are SAFE when TAKEN AS DIRECTED (including not mixing them with potentially-harmful substances – including alcohol), are doing to those with incurable diseases and inoperable injuries that cause them constant severe pain. (The rate of addiction within the chronic pain community is extremely small. A reminder – physical dependence, which can be caused by many substances including alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, prescription antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics and even prescription blood pressure medications, is NOT the same as addiction).

    Our chronic pain community has seen a huge increase in suicides because many patients who’ve been stable and functioning (to the best of their condition) on prescription opioids for many years (even decades) have had their medication either reduced down to ineffective levels or completely cut off through no fault of their own. Most of these patients are unable to find another doctor willing to risk their license and their freedom to continue prescribing them the medication that once gave them some quality to their lives. Most (if not all) of these patients have already tried alternatives or use them in conjunction with alternatives. Many of these same patients are unable to even get out of bed without their medication.

    Our government can help those afflicted with addiction without harming those in legitimate pain. These restrictive regulations are doing NOTHING to save an addict’s life, but instead harming our elderly, our veterans with life-altering, permanent, disabling injuries, our physically disabled, and many others who are already vulnerable (including those fighting cancer, as many oncologists will refuse to treat their patients’ pain and instead refer them back to their family doctor or to a pain management doctor, many of who will no longer prescribe prescription opioids and instead offer injections of all kinds).

    The people of this country better wake up and demand that their state and federal bureaucrats with no medical license, let alone no medical knowledge, get their nose out of our doctors’ offices or they, themselves, will sometime in the future find that one of their loved ones or themselves will be at the mercy of their doctors, their pharmacists, their insurance companies, and their state and federal governments. Anyone can say that they’d “never” rely on prescription opioids, but never say “never,” as it only takes a second for one’s life to completely change, getting hit head-on and left in severe inoperable, disabling pain.

  • Tracey

    Two more points to consider – alcohol contributes to over 100,000 deaths in this country each year and is still the number one abused substance of choice in this country. Tobacco contributes to over 480,000 deaths in this country each year. Two legal substances with NO MEDICINAL VALUE. *crickets* Where’s the outrage for those almost 600,000 deaths per year from those two legal substances?

    Could it be the “sin” taxes that our federal, state and local governments impose on these two substances result in quite a bit of revenue for the government? (In no way am I suggesting our government ban or further restrict tobacco and alcohol. I’m merely pointing out the sheer hypocrisy and double standard of our government).

    Pills, plants and drinks, along with other substances, do NOT “cause” addiction, just as gambling does not “cause” gambling addiction; just as shopping does not “cause” shopping addiction; just as sex does not “cause” sex addiction; just as alcohol does not “cause” alcoholism. The abused substance (or activity) is merely the symptom of something much bigger and more complex.

  • Olddog

    You are going after the WRONG people! Legitimate pain sufferers like myself are paying the price for real criminals. I don’t guess you have the guts to go after the bad guys, so to make yourselves Look good, you punish us because it’s easier and much safer. Why not do the investigations needed to get the people that’s causing the problem you gutless ***kissers? The easiest way out is what you’re doing, at our expense. And you KNOW it. Bringing MORE misery on people that have enough of it as it is. A sorry bunch you are..

  • pharmaciststeve

    When are the states going to address the preventable deaths from the two drugs Alcohol and Nicotine… last year alcohol related deaths surpassed 100,000 for the first time abt a 20% increase from 2015 and Tobacco/Nicotine continue to kill abt 450,000/yr.. Alcohol kills EACH YEAR twice as many people as all the USA soldiers that were killed in the 12-14 yrs of the Vietnam war and Nicotine kills each year a similar number as all the USA soldiers were kill in the entire four years of World War II… these preventable deaths are just acceptable …where opiate OD deaths are not ? According to a Surgeon General addiction is a “brain disease” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/vivek-murthy-report-on-drugs-and-alcohol_us_582dce19e4b099512f812e9c do where is the dose of reality in fighting a mental health disease by law enforcement ?

    • Olddog

      WE ALL NEED HELP! ..40 years of increasing back ,leg pain… 3 failed surgeries.. Medications cut to 1/3 rd of what was prescribed 18 months ago. Not complacent, have tried EVERYTHING .. Last resort hopefully next week.. Ablazement of nerves..No surgen will touch me.. debris left in first 2 times.. embedded in scar tissue and nerve bundle..No quality of life now..Was able to function at %60 before cuts..Now all but bedridden… Please..There are many like me..If there’s anything I can do to be heard..Tell me please…I NEED HELP! NOW! I don’t live day by day.. It’s hour to hour..Thank you…Any info appreciated…

  • Anne Fuqua

    I have taken opioids for 17 years – with the exception of a few brief periods the same stable, but high dose for the past 13 years. It helps me immensely. I have a LIFE. I hear over and over about patients being tapered – or having to their meds discontinued entirely despite obvious negative impact. I have lost so much respect for our leaders at the CDC, FDA, DEA, and all the others who support the blanket policies that are harming patients like myself.

    I’ve been told that I am selfish for wanting myself and others who genuinely benefit to be able to continue successful treatment. I’ve been told that addicts are tempted if they know doctors prescribe opioids and that it’s not fair for them to feel this way. Others say there’s no way to tell who will be an addict and the risk is too big to justify giving opioids to chronic pain patients. It’s true, opioids AREN’T first line treatment for chronic non-malignant pain. Non-medication, non-invasive treatment SHOULD be exhausted before exploring non-opioid options, and finally opioids.

    SOME minimally invasive options like hyaluronic acid injections to arthritic joints may be reasonable too. Other options like spinal cord stimulators and intrathecal pumps should only be attempted if opioids are ineffective by oral or transdermal routes. Like opioids, some patients genuinely benefit from these options. Unfortunately there are serious risks that are often overlooked. I have an incomplete SCI, bladder issues, severe spasticity, painful neuropathy, and most likely adhesive arachnoiditis – all from surgery to implant an intrathecal pump. Even if surgery goes perfectly, many serious complications including adhesive arachnoiditis occur. Intrathecal opioids cause far more profound endocrine suppression. Almost all men will require testosterone replacement therapy. Endocrine suppression contributes to osteoporosis in both males and females. Epidural steroid injections are widely utilized for many diagnoses even though the injection itself is only indicated for a confirmed herniated disc with radiculopathy. Even in these indicated cases, few, if any, patients genuinely benefit. The actual steroid injected is actually labeled NOT FOR EPIDURAL OR I INTRATHECAL USE.

    Non-opioid drugs are not immune to side effects that can be both serious and bothersome. NSAID’s and acetaminophen can cause failure of the liver or kidneys. NSAID’s and acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) interfere with blood clotting. This is the mechanism by which these medications can cause fatal gastrointestinal bleeding. Extended clotting time is a serious problem for patients with many medical conditions those patients who are concurrent anti-coagulant therapy, or take certain other classes of medications. A growing body of evidence suggests that NSAID’s increase the risk of cardiovascular events. Gabapentin and pregabalin are prescribed for many painful conditions. Side effects like drowsiness, hypotension, and weight gain make these drugs difficult for many patients to tolerate. Worse, scientists are learning that these medications interfere with the development of new synapses (essentially recovery and regeneration of the nervous system) – a serious concern for ALL patients, but especially those with incomplete spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and nerve injuries. Despite the removal of the black box warning, most clinicians will agree that some patients do have a paradoxical reaction to SSRI/SNRI antidepressants and they can cause some patients to become suicidal. This is most frequently seen at initiation and during titration. Antidepressants (tricyclic, SSRI, and SNRI) can cause drowsiness, hypotension, and weight gain among other things.

    All things considered, the non-opioid drugs and procedures touted by PROP are not nearly as benign as some suppoters would indicate. Risk for side effects of ANY medication must be assessed based on the individual’s medical history, family history, and lifestyle factors. When non-pharmaceutical measures fail, non-opioids fail to provide sufficient relief, or are deemed inappropriate, opioids should be CONSIDERED.

    ALL therapies have risk. We don’t deny access to NSAID’s or acetaminophen despite the known risk of deaths. In fact, all of these medications have serious risks, but no one is saying they should be avoided altogether. It’s only society’s stigma against the disease of addiction that causes us to treat opioids the way the way we do. Sugary foods are freely available despite being unhealthy to all of us, highly tempting tempting to – and dangerous for diabetics. Alcohol and cigarettes are freely available to adults despite serious risks and no legitimate medical purpose. Given these facts, it’s illogical that patients and their doctors should be restricted from making a decision about whether opioids, which DO have a medical indication are right for them.

    Frankly, I’m sick of the propaganda. Opioids help ME. My doctor shouldn’t be afraid to prescribe them. I shouldn’t have to fear losing a medication that helps ME. NO PATIENT SHOULD.

    SINCE WHEN IS WANTING EFFECTIVE MEDICAL TREATMENT SELFISH?

    Previously well-functioning patients shouldn’t be reduced to to a shell of their former selves – all because of another’s actions. Addicts AND pain patients BOTH deserve effective, compassionate treatments that works them as an individual.

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