Editor in Chief
Summer is now upon us, and my garden has never looked better. I guess that’s the only good thing, at least temporarily, about global warming. Nothing really froze here during the winter, and we had an early and very wet spring, so my roses are already blooming. Until the global weather gets too hot for anything to grow, I’ll enjoy it.
Of course, my garden isn’t the only thing that’s growing. Unfortunately, yet another celebrity—Prince, in this case—has succumbed to what was almost certainly an overdose of opiate prescription medications. The timing coincided, coincidentally or not, with the airing of a documentary on PBS about Janis Joplin, another incredibly talented singer who died decades ago as a result of her opiate addiction. The only good thing about Prince’s death, if one can find any good in it, is that this brought even more attention to the epidemic of opiate addiction, which I wrote about last month. I still wonder why the efforts to overcome this problem within medicine have been so relatively scarce, outside of ongoing attempts to educate physicians about opiate addiction and its treatment by the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
I was, however, somewhat glad to see the “Open Letter to America’s Physicians on the Opiate Epidemic” from American Medical Association (AMA) President Steven Stack posted on the AMA website. It was a copy of his Huffington Post blog from the same day. Dr. Stack is an emergency physician from my own state of Kentucky, and thus common sense tells me he has to have been aware of the magnitude of this problem for a long time.
I was concerned, though, that it took well over a month following the publication of the CDC and FDA advisory recommendations on opiate use in pain treatment for the AMA president to post his letter. Furthermore, while his letter paraphrases some of the most important CDC recommendations, he not only doesn’t refer physicians to them, he doesn’t even mention that they were published. And it also bothers me that while acknowledging that the opiate epidemic often “has started from a prescription pad,” he attributes this to flawed “public policies” that “compelled doctors to treat pain more aggressively.” I guess that assertion is a topic for a more serious and lengthy debate than I have room for here.
Speaking of debates and addictions, and I may be criticized for this usage given the preceding paragraphs, but the ubiquity of the droning on about this year’s presidential election on the 24-hour news channels is strangely addicting—when I’m not working or gardening—to me at least. One thing I’ve noticed more than in prior years is the nature of those “experts” who are regularly called upon to talk, seemingly endlessly, about the political bombshells of the day.
Most of the people seem to be there solely because they are advocates for one candidate or another. Rather than anyone with real expertise in political analysis, the panelists seem to have been selected in large part because they are fierce advocates for their chosen candidates, in hopes, I guess, of generating verbal fireworks to keep up the ratings. And I’m sorry to say I’m one of those watching, which keeps it going. Even the promos for the primary election reports on one of the news channels are clearly geared to make the election coverage seem like an upcoming professional wrestling or Super Bowl broadcast.