Speakers peppered sessions with anecdotes -- all worth committing to memory -- of doctors selling prescription medications out of their offices, of the lack of central monitoring of what medications are being dispensed to whom, of the wasting away of a generation of formerly able-bodied talent into a "disability lifestyle."
Who knew, 100 years ago when states began passing the first laws to protect the injured, that the No. 1 issue facing injured workers would be the out-of-control dispensing of narcotics?
Who knew that pharmacy issues were going to devour so much of the industry's energy? Instead of finding ways of getting workers back to work, managers are looking for ways to prevent them from turning into opioid addicts.
It's not only workers who are at risk from the narcotics epidemic. A story published in November by USA Today reveals how babies are being born addicted to prescription drugs, ingested through their mothers' bloodstream in the womb.
In New York, a man addicted to OxyContin was convicted last month of multiple life sentences for shooting to death several people as he was in the midst of robbing a Long Island pharmacy.
More people have died unintentionally from prescription narcotics than from heroin and cocaine in the period from 1999 to 2007, according to the National Vital Statistics System database.
The first step to recovery is for the patient to admit he or she has a problem. The industry has already done that. The time has now come to fight back.
December 1, 2011
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