WCBS 880 reporter Irene Cornell is doing an extended series on drug abuse, called Bad Medicine: When Painkillers Kill. The series will run through May 23. Be sure to check cbsnewyork.com for her pieces if you miss them on-air.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Dr. Andrew Kolodny treats severely addicted casualties of the prescription pill epidemic as head of the psychiatry department at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.
WCBS 880's Irene Cornell On The Story
And he has put himself on the frontlines of the battle to combat the overprescribing of Oxycontin and other narcotic painkillers, reported WCBS 880's Irene Cornell.
"The sales for these medications continue to skyrocket, to a point at which the U.S. is now consuming more than 80 percent of the entire world's opioid supply," Dr. Kolodny told Cornell. "According to the CDC, it's this overprescribing that's fueling an epidemic of overdose deaths and addiction."
Kolodny formed Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP). He said he is obsessed with this public health crisis.
"It's unfortunate, but there are individuals and organizations who are actually denying that we have a serious problem," he said.
He said his adversaries are the pharmaceutical companies which reap enormous profits from the sale of narcotic pain killers and doctors in denial.
It was in the late 1990s when the pharmaceutical companies began pressuring doctors to prescribe narcotic painkillers like Oxycontin, aggressively, reported Cornell.
They saw it as a tremendous source of revenue and deliberately downplayed the dangers of addiction.
"Some people will refer to this as the opioid experiment, in which doctors began to really prescribe these medications aggressively. We now know that it's been a disaster," he said.
"Those pills, legal drugs, that's very dangerous," said Michael Green, who is recovering from a long-term addiction to Oxycontin.
Kolodny and Green, with his hard-earned street smarts, have come to the same conclusion.
"The doctors are the one's who are destroying our neighborhoods. No other way to say it," said Green. "They the ones that are given out these medications and peoples are losing their minds behind this stuff. They got to have... that stuff is more habit forming than heroin and crack."
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