Hydrocodone and its relative oxycodone result in more than 2 deaths every hour – daytime and nighttime – throughout the year. Sadly more than 90% of the world’s hydrocodone is consumed in the United States, yet it regularly fails to perform up to expectations.

Governmental authorities who once championed prescriptions for chronic back pain, arthritis and fibromyalgia.  They now realize the monster they created. Current recommendations suggest severe restrictions on this compound.

First synthesized in the early 1920s in Germany the drug languished until approval in the United States in 1943.  Problems with addiction and dependence were noticed in the early 1960s.  In spite of this, various state medical authorities mandated treating pain be considered a priority.   It was considered inappropriate for a doctor not to simply assume a patient’s complaint of pain was legitimate.

Evidently the rest of the world survives without reliance on this medication especially for the chronic treatment of pain.  At present hydrocodone is sold mixed with either ibuprofen or acetaminophen.  Surprisingly recent studies suggest the ibuprofen or acetaminophen components might actually provide the benefits of the combination with the hydrocodone  responsible for the problems.

Amazingly in spite of a national disaster of overdose related deaths from hydrocodone and its cousin oxycodone, the government focused attention on too much acetaminophen being prescribed.  Bureaucrats worried about overdosage of acetaminophen now limit its presence to less than 325 mg while only beginning to realize the catastrophe of the narcotic component.

An estimated 30,000+ deaths occur as people take multiple doses each day.  Hydrocodone is used to treat all sorts of painful condition ranging from low back pain, fibromyalgia or  headache to diabetic neuropathy and shingles pain.

These drugs depress brain activity and increase susceptibility to the added effects of sedatives, muscle relaxants or alcohol.  In our society where so many people abuse drugs, tighter controls seem long overdue.  As a nation, we can and must treat pain more effectively and differentiate between physical and psychiatric pain.

 

 

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