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Author Topic: A very big problem  (Read 740 times)
Tom Rubillo
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« on: August 17, 2019, 05:11:23 PM »

I just finished reading DHEC's October 2018 study entitled "Opiod Prescriptions in South Carolina" on line.  It reports that there were 4.3 million prescriptions for opiates dispensed in SC in 2017.  Those prescriptions included hydrocodone (Vicodin), OxyCotin, Percocet and fentanyl. 

Out of that total, 64,603 prescriptions for opiates were filled in Georgetown County, all adding up to a total of 4,551,297 doses of these highly addictive and deadly narcotics being dispensed in Georgetown County alone.  Doing the math, those numbers break down to an average of about 70.5 pills per prescription, compared to 57 pills per prescription statewide. 

Again, according to DHEC, the total for Georgetown calculated to 1,048.63 prescriptions for every 1,000 man, woman, child and infant in the county.  That was an extraordinary number in many ways, not the least of which that it ranks Georgetown County second only to the State of Alabama in the rate at which these narcotics are dispensed by local doctors and pharmacies.  (Alabama leads the entire nation with 1072.13 per 1,000 in population.)    Doing the math -- 1048.63 prescriptions at 70.5 pills each -- that calculates to around 7,392.84 opiate pills in the hands of every man, woman, child and infant in Georgetown County.

The South Carolina Attorney General's office is suing big drug companies for overproducing opiates like Vicodin, OxyCotin and Percocet.  The City of Georgetown reportedly has joined with other municipalities in bringing similar suits.  During the course of all that litigation the number of prescriptions for opiates written by each doctor in Georgetown and filled by each pharmacy in the county will undoubtedly be uncovered during the course of discovery procedures.  Freedom of Information Act requests to DHEC for that same information would reveal those totals too.  Further litigation to hold those who overwrote and overfilled may well follow.

This is not a small problem. 

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Marty Tennant
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« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2019, 09:21:44 AM »

Looks like prescriptions are being used to funnel supply into the black market, probably elsewhere.

I can't imagine all those pills being taken by people only in this county.
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Notice:  All posts made by me are my OPINION.  I am not responsible for any comments by others!  The Citizens' Report is provided as a public service to the citizens of Georgetown County for them to report and comment on the news.
concernedperson
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« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2019, 08:00:24 PM »

I am concerned about the people who commit crimes to pay for these pills. If this problem could be cured it would lead to a lower property crime rate. These addicts will do anything and steal anything to get the money they need.
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Tom Rubillo
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Posts: 74


« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2019, 05:50:54 PM »

Follow the money.  You lose it when some addict breaks into your home or car and steals your property or mugs you on the street.  The addict, in turn, uses the money they stole from you (or whatever they get when they sell or pawn your property) to pay a drug dealer to get what they need to support an opiate habit.  The drug dealer, in turn, gets the pills he or she sells either from someone with a prescription for them or from someone who stole pills from a family member or someone else with a legitimate prescription (maybe even you) for intractable pain,  The seller, of course, makes a profit from this sale.  Those who had the underlying prescription paid both the pharmacy for the medications and the doctor who prescribed them.  The pharmacist, in turn, after skimming his or her profits, paid the pharmaceutical company who manufactured hundreds of millions of these pills.  After skimming its profits off the top, the manufacturer gives "samples" to doctors to dispense, pays bonuses to doctors who prescribe their product, pay for junkets, expensive dinners, etc.) to the doctors as an incentive to continue prescribing.

 So, my question is this:  Who are the "criminals"?  Take your pick.  I think all of them belong in the line-up along with El Chapo and the other drug cartel profiteers.  The product may be different.  One set of opiates may be licensed for sale and the other is not.  But the resulting social problem -- widespread addiction-- is the same.

The bottom line here is that law enforcement should continue to enforce laws against sale of heroin and other dangerous drugs as they have in the past.  But they need to pay closer attention to this other half of the problem -- the manufacture, distribution and sale of licensed opiates.  The first step in that process involves close examination of the records already being compiled by DHEC.  Those will reveal the identities of each and every so-called "legal" prescriber and dispenser of so-called "legal" or "licensed" opiates, the amounts doled out by each and how much each profits by engaging in this business.  Some of those identified in this review will undoubtedly prove to be quite legitimate.  But given the volume of these drugs DHEC reports are being dispensed in Georgetown, it is clear that not all are.  Those shown to be over-prescribing or over-dispensing for profit should be prosecuted, just like those stealing to support their habits, those stealing these drugs from others, those selling them on the street or supplying them to street dealers..  Anybody financing or bankrolling this sort of illicit trade should too. That's my view of it.
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