Ask questions about opioid prescriptions

I am thankful that The Bladen Journal has implemented a series of articles drawing attention to the growing opioid crisis in our county, state, and nation. The most recent article focused on the role of health care professionals in creating this problem. I hope you will continue to publicize that aspect of the story because these prescribers play the largest role in expanding addiction but also have the greatest potential to control it.

About 18 months ago I attended a women’s conference in Duplin County. One of the sessions was led by a medical doctor who gave up practicing to become the medical director for two colleges in the Triangle Area of North Carolina. He is also a member of the World Health Organization. His presentation was about specific health issues relating to women and the increase of certain pervasive health conditions in Eastern North Carolina.

During the Q & A part of his presentation, he related that the reason he gave up practicing patient care was because of the pressure he received from medical administrators and drug companies to prescribe sometimes dangerous medications. He said that he was prohibited from recommending OTC or homeopathic remedies and ordered to write prescriptions. He also said that drug companies give prescribers bonuses for prescribing many medications, particularly statins for cholesterol, drugs for anxiety and depression, and opioids for pain.

He advised asking your doctor these questions before agreeing to any prescription: 1. Why are you prescribing this drug? 2. What are the possible dangers of taking this drug? 3. Is there a safer alternative? 3. How soon can I stop taking it? 4. How much will it cost? 5. Are you paid a bonus to prescribe this drug?

I am fortunate to have a great primary care physician who voluntarily discloses the answers to these questions and I believe any ethical prescriber would.

Patsy Sheppard

Tar Heel