September 2003 (vol. 19, #6)
1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716
c 2003 Physicians for Civil Defense
On Thursday, Sept. 25, the eve of Rosh Hashana, Dr. William Hurwitz of McLean, VA, was arrested by 20 armed guards in the presence of his young adopted daughters. He was jailed without bond pending arraignment on Monday. The federal government had already seized his assets, including his retirement account, under drug-related forfeiture laws, without any finding of guilt. When Dr. Hurwitz filed for return of his money, the government responded with a 49-count indictment for drug trafficking resulting in death or serious injury, engaging in a criminal enterprise, conspiracy, and health care fraud. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment.
Dr. Hurwitz is a widely known specialist in pain management. He treated desperate patients from many states who could find no one else to accept them. Fearing an unjust indictment, he closed his practice in August 2002 so that patients would have time to find a new doctor (see www.drhurwitz.com).
Because he prescribed unusually high doses of opioids in some patients, he had previously experienced difficulties with the licensure board. All his prescriptions were being carefully scrutinized by the Virginia Board of Medicine. If the Board had found his prescriptions to be improper, it could have revoked his license at any time, instantly stopping his prescriptions. It was patient misbehavior that triggered the prosecution.
``The indictment signals an aggressive push by federal prosecutors to hold doctors accountable for what happens to drugs they prescribe,'' writes Josh White (Washington Post 9/26/03). Some patients may sell part of their prescriptions to help pay for very expensive drugs such as OxyContin. Some may inject drugs intended for oral use.
Speaking at the 60th annual meeting of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) in Point Clear, Alabama, on Sept. 18, Dr. Hurwitz said, ``The logic of applying pressure upstream to the source is appropriate for illicit drugs, but backward for legal drugs.'' He stated that 90 to 95% of deaths attributed to OxyContin involved multiple drugs, according to a study by Purdue Pharma, and 20% are intentional suicides, according to a Florida Medical Examiner.
OxyContin is a sustained release formulation of oxycodone, which has enabled many patients with disabling pain to return to productive life. Dubbed ``hillbilly heroin,'' is has become a popular drug of abuse.
``The indictment and arrests in Virginia demonstrate our commitment to bring to justice all those who traffic in this very dangerous drug,'' stated Attorney General John Ashcroft. ``We will continue to pursue vigorously physicians, patients and others who are responsible for turning OxyContin from a legitimate painkiller to a vehicle of addiction and death.''
Ashcroft did not list the major media outlets that described the OxyContin high and how to achieve it.
Also in Virginia, Roanoke physiatrist and pain specialist Cecil Byron Knox, M.D., is now on trial, together with his office manager Beverly Gale Boone, each facing a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Prosecutors argue that Knox's prescriptions led to eight patient deaths. One witness testified that Dr. Knox had exchanged OxyContin prescription for bags of cocaine; however, the witness was unable to identify Dr. Knox, seated at the defense table. One observer stated that the government was scouring the jails for false witnesses.
A precedent was set in 2002 when Dr. James Graves of Florida was convicted on State manslaughter charges in connection with an OxyContin death of a patient. Now in his mid- fifties, Dr. Graves was sentenced to 63 years in prison. Because all his assets were seized, he had to rely on a public defender. His wife now works two jobs to support their children. Dr. Graves was denied an appeal bond because of additional pending charges of Medicaid fraud, based solely on the fact that some patients used Medicaid benefits to pay for their prescriptions.
The outbreak of prosecutions is nationwide. All doctors who worked, even briefly, at a chronic pain clinic in Myrtle Beach, SC, have been charged. Dr. Deborah Bordeaux awaits sentencing that could be for 100 years.
Over the past three years, physician prosecutions have increased by 800%, according to the Pain Relief Network (PRN). A list of more than 30 such doctors is posted at www.aapsonline.org/painman/actionsagainst.htm.
It's a ``collision of superstition with science,'' stated Siobhan Reynolds, Executive Director of PRN. ``The Justice Department is misidentifying pain doctors with drug dealers.'' ``The DOJ brings sham expert testimony into these courtrooms that directly contradicts established medical standards,'' stated the Reverend Dr. Ronald Myers, Sr., Founding President of the American Pain Institute.
In the past, the DOJ has frequently used the in terrorem threat of draconian prison terms to extort guilty pleas on the eve of trial, as in the case of Benjamin Moore, D.O., who commited suicide to avoid testifying against others. Ashcroft recently issued orders to prosecutors to pursue maximum charges and sentences whenever possible and to limit plea bargains. More middle-aged physicians could receive sentences that mean they will die in prison.
Meanwhile, ``innocent patients get the death penalty,'' stated one pain patient now unable to find a doctor willing to prescribe (Reason 4.03). A University of Arizona pain clinic was deluged with hundreds of calls by patients whose physicians are too terrified to prescribe even small doses of opioids following the arrest of Tucson physician Jeri Hassman, M.D.
Let them go to the methadone clinic, some say, for admittedly unsatisfactory treatment-even though such clinics can handle only a small fraction of the heroin addicts they are designed to treat. The campaign against legal pain medications, a part of the War on Drugs, is indeed war (AAPS News, June 2003). There is no presumption of innocence. Collateral damage to patients and physicians' families is the norm, and surrender of the Enemy is the goal. Spies, misinformation, ambushes, economic sanctions, and intimidation are all tools of war.
Does victory mean jailed and terrorized physicians, and patients dependent on government for pain relief?
But while 44% of Albertans think there is nothing they can do, 47% think it's time to ``explore other options such as independence from Canada.'' Another 9% want to join the U.S.
``Japan ratified the treaty but later they announced they were not going to enforce it because it would just cause too much economic damage. That is my hope for Canada,'' writes Ezra Levant, a Calgary constitutional lawyer and commentator (www.ezralevant.com/FightKyoto.htm).
Before ratification, the Environment Minister engaged in a cover-up of the economic costs that ``would make Richard Nixon blush'' (Levant E, Fight Kyoto, 2002). The results of government studies were concealed even from Liberal Cabinet ministers-who read the leaked documents in the National Post. The government's own economists estimated the cost of Kyoto to be $75 billion-twice as much as its most pessimistic opponents thought-or $10,000 for every family of four.
Levant observes that a foreign treaty ``cannot give the federal government any powers that our own Constitution does not grant.'' Nevertheless, suing the government is a tricky business-``especially when Supreme Court judges are hand-picked by the Prime Minister.'' Indeed, every important provincial challenge in recent years, from gun control to jurisdiction over toxic substances, has been decided in favor of the federal government.
In Canada, the losing side also has to pay the legal fees of the winners.
For a province to fight Ottawa in the courts is ``like a scuba diver going after the sharks.'' Instead, Levant suggests building a shark cage around the diver.
Levant's book and web site contain a wealth of information and intellectual ammunition, including a debater's guide with ``fibs and facts'' and the annotated text of the Protocol.
The earth's climate undergoes physical and biological fluctuations, with periods of about 50 years, that are most prominent in the Pacific Ocean. During warm periods of 25 years, as between 1950 and 1975 and 1975 to the mid-1990s, sardines flourish. During cool periods, as between 1900 to 1925 and 1950 to 1975, anchovies predominate. In the late 1990s, a shift back to the ``anchovy regime'' began. We could see global temperatures begin to drop in the near future.
An important study of this phenomenon (Chavez FP, et al. Science 2003;299:217-221) was summarized and reviewed by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, www.co2science.org.
``We also note that the authors' remarks about `large-scale, naturally occurring variations' needing to be considered when looking for `human-induced climate change' apply equally well to the millennial-scale climate oscillations that brought our planet the Roman Warm Period, the Medieval Warm Period and now, very likely, the Modern Warm Period, which is something climate alarmists seem especially loath to do.''
The rest of the story is that the insulating foam in use was an ``environmentally friendly'' substitute for Freon-containing foam banned by the EPA. Despite the fact that the EPA exempted NASA from the CFC reduction in 2001, NASA stuck with the ``PC foam''-even though, according to Steven Milloy, ``the first mission with PC foam resulted in 11 times more damaged thermal tiles on Columbia, than the previous mission with Freon-based foam.'' The damage, moreover, was obvious and quite severe. More than 100 tiles were damaged beyond repair, many more than the usual 40.
Had a private firm, rather than a government agency, permitted the use of unsafe materials that caused the very public deaths of 14 individuals, it would have been a scandal of epic proportions. But mainstream reporters are not even asking the pertinent questions, writes William Anderson (eco-logic Powerhouse, Sept. 2003).
NASA apparently learned nothing from the Challenger disaster, the result of PC O-rings that were free of the tiny amounts of asbestos in the previous O-rings.
Environmentalists that had sounded alarms about asbestos and Freon, including Al Gore, were not available to speak to reporter John Berlau about the space tragedies. An Environmental Defense spokeswoman said, ``We're not really working on this'' (Insight 8/4/03).
An even more politically incorrect question is why the space shuttle is like a flying soufflé that could be brought down by a chunk of glorified Styrofoam. Although NASA has worked wonders with wisps of carbon fiber, ``the Holy Grail of designers, almighty strong and feather light Unobtainium, is simply a myth.'' Mass matters, writes Russell Seitz. Bridge builders use a safety factor of 400%, but NASA is stuck with 40%, for sheer lack of thrust. More powerful propulsion requires nuclear energy, which is an even greater Demon than asbestos or Freon. That's why we're not on our way to Mars (Seitz R, Wall St J 8/28/03).
Rinse well and fill your used soda bottles with water.
Have a supply of non-treated plastic trash bags to line buckets or drawers; fill with water before the pressure drops.
Have a supply of chlorine bleach to keep the bucket of fecal matter or bottle of urine from stinking.
Keep some cash; ATMs and credit cards won't work.
Buy a DC to AC inverter to plug into your car battery or a marine battery; 3 to 5-watt Compact Fluorescent bulbs; a Rayovac 1-hr charger for NiMH AA/AAA batteries for your radio, personal fan, or Rayovac headlamp; and D-cell alkaline batteries only (stored at room temperature) for emergency equipment. Idle your car for about an hour to recharge the battery when it is half drained. Do your shopping now; it will be impossible once the disaster strikes.