February 18th, 2012
UD’s Sadness Over the Medicalization of Grief…

… by cynical commercial interests in this country strengthens as the new Diagnostic Manual, with its piling up and pilling up on simple mourning, looms. What can we do to soften this latest blow to our emotional privacy, our right to our sorrow?

“I have my own cosmology of pain,” protests the writer Bill Gray in Don DeLillo’s novel, Mao II: ” Leave me alone with it.” But America’s famous pathetic drug deaths, coming in now at the rate of about one every couple of months, pierce through any denial we might entertain about the polis of polypharmacy, everyone here, it seems, a dispenser or devotee of anti-experience chemicals.

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, eyes –

That was Emily Dickinson, expressing the sympathetic curiosity we all have about the grieving – wondering if the grief of others is like our grief; wondering about its origins, its intensity, its nature. Grief – the clean honest passion that hurled John Marcher, finally, onto the grave of his beloved and thereby told him, finally, of that love… Like Dickinson, he looks directly into the eyes of a fellow mourner at the cemetery, and he sees what grief is – he sees the having loved deeply that elicits it:

The stranger passed, but the raw glare of his grief remained, making our friend wonder in pity what wrong, what wound it expressed, what injury not to be healed. What had the man had, to make him by the loss of it so bleed and yet live?

We scrutinize our grief; we scrutinize the grief of others. We know that our grief is in some way – a way of which we can be proud – a measure of the love we were able to experience and express.

And though I may not guess the kind –
Correctly – yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary –

To note the fashions – of the Cross –
And how they’re mostly worn –
Still fascinated to presume
That Some – are like my own –

Marcher, Dickinson, all of us: We observe the grief of others, and the grief that is our own. And from that we derive along with pain, comfort. Comfort because the grief of others, whatever its source, is mostly like our own — the capacity to grieve is in itself a form of reassurance, an admission into the human theater, an instance of solidarity, an encounter with what’s most valuable, really, in ourselves, and in others.

Yet now we read those initial lines differently:

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, eyes –

Those are our pill dispensers, our under-informed, over-worked family doctors, glancing at the latest DSM on their desk as they measure our grief with narrow eyes and write a prescription for the Xanax on which Whitney Houston was so dependent.

It’s not enough merely to protest, as Allen Frances and so many others are eloquently and ceaselessly doing, pharma’s theft of what’s most intimate and what’s best about us. We have to remind ourselves what grief is.

May 25th, 2011
A campus policeman who dealt drugs.

It’s unclear whether Dylan Boyd Devault sold hydrocodone to people at the University of Tennessee, but it stands to reason that he did. He’s been arrested in a drug sweep.

May 10th, 2011
A “pill mill killer” ….

…. with a degree from the University of Chicago.

Details of his activities.

March 25th, 2011
“At no time during his volunteer faculty appointment, which began July 1, 2008, did Oscar Linares participate in the education or training of medical students or residents, nor did he ever provide health care at UTMC.”

Yikes! Let’s get this guy off our backs, pronto! Just a volunteer appointment; didn’t teach; didn’t see patients… In fact, he was the first Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toledo to do nothing! Nothing! Never heard of the guy!

Oscar Linares is now on trial for having “operated a large-scale prescription mill out of the clinic on Laplaisance Road, prescribing OxyContin and other painkillers to up to 250 patients a day, and [having] fraudulently billed Medicare for more than $57 million.”

At the Linares clinic, “employees were given $25 bonuses if the clinic processed more than 200 patients a day.” “Parking attendants were hired to help direct traffic.”

His faculty affiliation at the University of Toledo is featured in the first paragraph of the Toledo Blade article about him, as well it should be. That university gave the guy respectability and cover. Other universities are doing the same thing with other pill mill owners. This blog will provide coverage of each of these professors – as the government catches up with them.

March 12th, 2011
Another inside job at a university hospital.

Most have involved medical faculty. This one’s about a nurse.

UD continues to follow the growing university-as-pill-mill story closely.

February 11th, 2011
“One boom holds all the mechanics for the anesthesiologist’s station, monitored by Barry Ray, M.D., at the head of the operating table.”

UMDNJ’s still boasting about its state of the art anesthesiologist, Barry Ray. Ray’s the latest university physician to turn himself into a pill mill, and, what with America’s outrageous oxycodone appetite, he’ll be far from the last.

This is one university story – medical professors as drug dealers – from which you might be inclined to avert your eyes. But it’s an important, and growing, campus fact.

December 27th, 2010
A doctor until recently affiliated with a university hospital…

… has been arrested for running a pill mill empire.

We will see more and more of these cases, and some of them, UD predicts, will involve not merely people who have hospital privileges, but people who teach in the medical schools.

Between April and October of this year, [83 year old Dr. Felix] Lanting allegedly wrote a staggering 3,029 oxycodone prescriptions to various patients through his private practice. That translates to an average of 15 prescriptions a day, seven days a week, according to court papers. …Neighbors estimated Dr. Lanting saw anywhere from 50 to 140 patients a day.

83 years old and he sees a hundred people a day! Inspiring.

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