Here’s how the VA helped Big Pharma get veterans hooked on opioids — then made the problem worse
The Veterans Administration overprescribed opiates and psychiatric medication for more than a decade, and then swung back dangerously in the other direction about five years ago.
Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma played a key role in spreading opiate use among veterans by giving $200,000 to essentially turn the VA into its propaganda arm, according to an investigative report by Newsweek.
Secret corporate documents obtained by the magazine show how the pharmaceutical company helped develop VA-Department of Defense guidelines that claimed opiates rarely cause addiction, and promoted the phony campaign, “Pain: The 5th Vital Sign.”
In 2011, veterans were twice as likely to die from accidental opioid overdoses as non-veterans.
About 60 percent of veterans who fought in the Middle East and 50 percent of older veterans suffer from chronic pain, but the VA overcorrected in 2012 and cut opioid prescriptions by 56 percent.
“I am going crazy because of the pain and burning up with anger at the VA, the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and [Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)] for what they’re doing to so many Americans and veterans,” said Marine veteran Robert Rose, who suffers from spine, neck and knee injuries but was cut off last year from opioid pain medication.