Articles by:

Charlea T. Massion, MD and Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD

Browse articles by Charlea T. Massion, MD, and Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD

Adriane just had dental surgery and the surgeon provided a prescription for Tylenol with codeine. When she told him that opioids were not better than over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers for dental pain, the surgeon argued, “But it’s such a weak opioid.” And then he said, almost to himself, “Well, I guess it does turn to morphine in the gut.”

We’ve previously discussed the risks of opioids, and how pharmaceutical companies have encouraged over-prescription of these drugs that has created an opioid addiction epidemic. But what’s a person in pain to do?

Back when we were in training, more than 30 years ago, opioids were considered dangerous drugs that could cause addiction and life-threatening respiratory depression. Medical students were taught that opioids were very useful for end-of-life pain (especially for cancer, which can cause excruciating pain) and that they were important for a few days after surgery or a severe injury.

It’s probably not a coincidence that both FARE and AAN have received substantial financial support from EpiPen’s manufacturer. Since 2011, Mylan has provided more than $10 million to fund various “educational efforts” including donations to these two groups.

Medical aid in dying is a safe and trusted practice. Laws such as EOLOA are an important component of end-of-life care, and these carefully crafted processes can have positive results.

U.S. drug prices are out of control and unsustainable. We’re the only developed country where public programs cannot negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers; as a result, the U.S. generally pays more for branded prescription drugs than any other country.

We all know that some pharmaceutical companies put their own corporate profits ahead of patient safety. But, those companies don’t have a lock on this behavior — here’s an example of a medical device company that has also compromised patient safety.

Hip replacement, a surgical procedure where the hip joint is replaced by a prosthetic device, is usually done to relieve severe pain and mobility problems in a natural joint damaged by arthritis or trauma. Usually, both the “ball” (i.e., femoral head) and “socket” (i.e., acetabulum) are replaced, with excellent results.

Ever notice how dinner party hosts estimate portions based on their own appetites? Small eaters may leave their guests hungry; large eaters may have plenty of leftovers. Adriane’s in the latter category; her guests learn to enjoy her food in generous portions, or risk her wrath. Charlea, on the other hand, considers salad dinner. Somehow, we’ve managed to remain friends.

About the Authors

Charlea T. Massion, MD

Charlea T. Massion, MD, is a practicing physician in Santa Cruz County specializing in hospice and palliative care. Charlea brought her passion for improving women’s health along with 40+ years of health care experience to the NWHN as a member of the board for 8 years. She also co-founded the American College of Women’s Health Physicians.

Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD

Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, is a former NWHN Board Chair whose research presents a critical analysis of the marketing of prescription drugs. Adriane educates prescribers on pharmaceutical marketing practices as Director of the PharmedOUT program, and created the Health in the Public Interest program at Georgetown University School of Medicine where she trains a new generation of consumer advocates. Additional articles by Adriane can be found here.