My Sister Died of an Overdose of Prescription Painkillers

Date: Sunday, August 10, 2014 10:36 AM
Category: Allgov Blogs

One year ago today, my sister, Amy Wallace, died of an overdose of prescription painkillers. She had prescriptions for some drugs, but supplemented her allowance by using online pharmacies. Those wanting to know more about Amy can scroll through video of her memorial service here.

 

What I want to discuss is the Obama administration’s refusal to deal seriously with the epidemic of deaths from prescription drug overdoses. I run a web site, AllGov.com, which monitors the activities of more than 330 departments and agencies of the U.S. Government. Not realizing that someday this problem would hit so close to home, my staff and I made it a point of writing about the prescription drug overdose epidemic at least once a year.

 

Here’s a sampling of our headlines:

 

Florida: More Deaths from Oxycodone than Cocaine

Prescription Drugs Cause More Deaths than Illegal Drugs

Drug Addiction in Oklahoma Costs More than Entire State Budget

Another State Reports Uncontrolled Rise in Prescription Drug Abuse

Drug Overdose Deaths Up for 11th Year in Row

 

You get the picture. In each year since 2007, prescription opioid painkillers caused more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. All over the United States, hospitals, police departments and sheriff departments have been trying to deal with the unnecessary rise in lethal overdoses of prescription painkillers. The Obama administration has shown little interest in acting.

 

It’s not hard to figure out why.  The drugs that my sister and others overdosed on are produced by large pharmaceutical firms that spend millions of dollars on lobbying. To them, sales of their products mean nothing more than increased revenue. If their products are filtered to the public through shady online pharmacies and end up being the cause of death of thousands of Americans, that’s simply not relevant. Both major political parties want campaign donations from the pharmaceutical industry, so the consequences of the sale of prescription painkillers are not relevant to them either.

 

After four years of being President Barack Obama’s “drug czar,” Gil Kerlikowske suddenly discovered the prescription drug death crisis. By this time, prescription drug overdoses had become the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., surpassing gunshot wounds and automobile accidents. “We weren’t paying attention to it,” he told a House of Representatives subcommittee. Tell that to ER workers and law enforcement agents around the country…not to mention Americans who lost loved ones.

 

Every now and then, Obama administration officials or members of Congress will perk up and say something or advocate a minor fix, but it’s pretty much hot air. The most cynical action by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) occurred two months after my sister died.  The FDA reclassified certain painkillers to make them better regulated and announced that for certain drug combinations, patients would be limited to a 90-day supply and would have to return to a doctor for a refill prescription. Pretty tough stuff, huh?

 

But the very next day, the FDA, overruling its own expert panel, approved the production and distribution of a new painkiller, Zohydro ER, the first hydrocodone-only opioid, that’s considered at least five times stronger than heroin. Thanks FDA.

 

I understand that my sister made her own decisions about her life and that she was ultimately responsible for her own death. I also know that there are individuals in the Obama administration who are doing what they can to crack down on online pharmacies. For example, just three weeks ago, a federal grand jury indicted FedEx for knowingly shipping illegal drugs from online pharmacies to consumers despite having been warned by the federal government at least six times that it was acting as a drug courier. FedEx faces fines of up to $820 million, but unlike small-time drug couriers, no one at the company faces jail time over the charges.

 

Not until the executives of pharmaceutical companies and the executives of enabling companies, like FedEx, face criminal charges as individuals, is there any hope for seriously reducing the number of victims of prescription drug overdoses…and the number of Americans who wake up one morning to learn, as I did one year ago today, that they have lost a loved one.

Latest News

The $20 Bill: Andrew Jackson or Harriet Tubman?

With all the talk of taking down statues and changing the names of buildings, isn’t it time that we talk about the presence of Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill? Jackson was actually a slave trader who made his fortune buying and selling African-Americans. What he did to Native Americans was even worse. He forced an estimated 46,000 Native Americans off their ancestral lands and turned over the land to white people. Thousands of Cherokee died on the Trail of Tears, walking to what is now Oklahoma.   read more

Donald Trump Revealed to be a Democratic Mole

Release of a secretly recorded conversation between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden revealed the shocking news that Trump is actually a mole who has infiltrated the Republican Party and is working to get Biden elected president. "My big strategy is to hold rallies in battleground states, tell my supporters not to wear masks and instead to link arms. So many of them will end up dying before the election, it’ll be great.”   read more

President Trump Apologizes for Coronavirus Deaths

In a series of tweets, Trump said, “I’m sorry I didn’t act sooner and I’m sorry that I’ve pushed to open up the country before the pandemic is under control. As you know, I’ve added my name to the stimulus checks that Americans have received. Now I’ve asked to add my name to the death certificates of all Americans who die of the coronavirus from now on.”   read more

Hundreds of Thousands Wait in Line for Anti-Stupid Leader Vaccine

All over the United States, hospitals were swamped with people wanting the new Anti-Stupid Leader Vaccine, which eliminates all images of Donald Trump, replacing them with photos of forests and streams, and replaces all his words with the sound of birds singing or babies giggling. Massive street parties were reported in Hungary and Belarus, while citizens of Great Britain and France anxiously waited to see if the vaccine worked against leaders who are merely ridiculous.   read more

Suicide Cult Urges Increased Coronavirus Deaths

Members of the Trumpianity religion are urging their co-religionists to end anti-coronavirus restrictions and expose themselves to the Covid-19 virus in order to martyr themselves with the goal of increasing their leader’s power. A protest organizer, Sharpie Bellicose, went a step further. “I’m glad to die to help Trumpianity. But before I die, I intend to infect at least three Democrats. That way my martyrdom will be really useful.”   read more
see more...