Blaming “Big Pharma”…

So Johnson & Johnson just got bitch slapped by the State of Oklahoma for creating a pain reliever it turns out has some addictive qualities. A fair portion of the interwebs are cheering this development.

I’m a contrarian, though. There are some fine points that I don’t quite understand. I have questions.

Opioid pain relievers are, obviously, considered pretty good at what they were designed to do. Without deep diving into the science of how and why, my assumption is they were created principally to reduce / manage pain. It occurs to me, a guy with no medical degree or scientific training, that there are a lot of ways to get after that goal other than opioids depending on the severity of the pain in question.

So now, the question is, what, if anything, is available that’s just as effective at revealing pain as a standard opioid? Then, the question becomes, what role do doctors have in determining the most effective treatment? Finally, we get down to brass tacks and ask what responsibility does the general public have in terms of being informed about what these options are and what they are putting into their own bodies?

You see, I don’t blame the drug companies here – at least not to the level of holding them out as the ultimate bad guy. I suspect in developing bigger and better opioids they were simply responding to a demand signal in the marketplace. That is to say that when given an option, people tend to want to reduce the pain associated with medical conditions or procedures as much and as quickly as possible. I don’t blame them. I’m less than heroic under duress. I don’t want to be in pain any more than is strictly necessary. I wouldn’t do well if it came to holding up under torture. What can I say, I’m a man who knows his own limitations.

With that all said, I’m also a guy who makes his own decisions. I’ve been prescribed opioids on a couple of occasions. Fortunately, the level of pain involved was such that I could manage with a few hands full of 800mg ibuprofen and go on about my business. Even though it was readily available, I opted to bypass the higher powered pain killer because I didn’t really need it. A lot of other people would have made different assessments of their own needs under the exact same circumstance. But everything starts with that choice… and then consequences follow.

But, this is America in the 21st century, so we have to have someone to blame for every bad thing that happens. “Big Pharma” is an easy and tempting target when it comes to who caused the opioid problem. It is their product, after all… even if that product only exists because we collectively have demanded a better and faster painkiller. They gave us a hell of a product. Maybe in the future we we should be a bit more thoughtful about what we ask for and noggin through some of the second and third order effects it might have.

Yeah, right. Like that’s going to happen. Never as long as we have a convenient scapegoat to relieve us of the burden of our own responsibilities.

Where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain…

I’ve never been to Oklahoma, but if it’s anything like my perception of it, things have been boring there for a long time. If I had to put a date on it, I’d certainly say it’s been boring at least since we closed the frontier in the 1880s or at the latest during the oil booms of the early 20th century. The Old West and boom towns are full of stories about people being gunned down – for cheating at cards, rustling cattle, robbing banks, running liquor, and sleeping with the wrong man’s wife. What the old timey stories aren’t full of are examples of ass clowns who decided to shoot the place up because they were bored.

Seriously? They. Were. Bored. When I was a teenager back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth I’m not sure any of us would have even had the passing thought of running outside and shooting whoever happened to jog past the house. We had plenty of guns between us – and even used them to entertain ourselves by plinking bottles and aluminum cans – but gunning down someone for just wandering past never figured into the plan. Mostly, we entertained ourselves riding four wheelers, shooting pool, swimming, listening to music, exploring the just-born internet, playing the original game consoles, or what we generally called “hanging out.”

I’m already reading about how the shooting of Christopher Lane is a failure of society, about how these three turd burglars had difficult childhoods, and the hundred and one other excuses people have when their kids turn out to be assholes. Sorry mom. Sorry dad. You failed your kids, not me, not the government, not society, but you. Maybe if you had put a book in your kids’ hands at some point or sent them to music lessons or gotten them involved in sports they’d have turned out differently. Now you get to live with the consequences of your kids gunning an innocent in cold blood. Their actions are the result of your collective failure as parents.

It’s going to be up to the good people of Oklahoma to hand down the appropriate justice. I seem to recall them being the last bastion of the old fashioned firing squad in these United States. Let’s hope they put that tried and true method of sweeping the scum from the earth to good use.

This post is the third installment of “You Ask, I write.” Want an opinion on the news of the day? Feel free to leave a comment and I will opine.

Apparently I missed it…

Once upon a time a natural disaster couldn’t happen anywhere in the country and escape my notice. A wildfire in Southern California or a Missouri River flood were the high sign that the overtime spigot was about to be cranked wide open. Of course I’ve been out of that game for a while now… and while I don’t miss the late night calls to pack up and be ready to fly away on short notice, I definitely miss the OT.

More than that, I think I might actually miss what’s going on around me. Through a combination of watching Mad Men on demand and running some random sitcoms as background noise last night, listening to commercial-free online radio through AppleTV, and not checking in with the news sites before bed, I didn’t even know that the entire state of Oklahoma had apparently been wiped off the map until I cranked on Channel 13 for my morning dose of local news. That’s a tough confession to make for a guy who prides himself on having a pretty good grip on what’s happening in the world.

I’m not going to get drug into a philosophical discussion about it, but for good or ill, it seems that I’ve more or less stopped paying attention to the news. Maybe I just lost interest. Maybe I’ll come back around at some point, but just now, I’m surprisingly ok with being in the dark about things. Then again, maybe I’ve only got so much bandwidth to deal with news and current events and I’m just prioritizing what makes it through to my frontal lobe… apparently even my subconscious wants the world to stay off my proverbial lawn.