Monday, July 10, 2006

migraine news roundup 5

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Johnson & Johnson Told to Pay Damages in Pain-Patch Death

Jurors in a state court in Houston decided yesterday that Johnson & Johnson, the consumer health care company, must pay $772,500 to the family of a Texas woman who died after a patch intended to release pain-killing drugs leaked.

After deliberating seven hours, jurors found that the two Johnson & Johnson units that make the pain patches, called Duragesic, were responsible for the death of Michaelynn Thompson.

Ms. Thompson, 42, died in 2004 while wearing a Duragesic patch to manage pain from injuries after a car accident.

I know some migraineurs and many others with chronic pain rely on Duragesic patches to control their pain. This doesn't seem to be an isolated incident, so I hope some definitive answer can be reached about whether this product is safe.
Lawyers for Ms. Thompson's family said before the trial that about 100 suits had been filed so far over the Duragesic patch, which generated worldwide sales of about $1.6 billion in 2005. It was Johnson & Johnson's fourth-biggest-selling drug last year.

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating 120 deaths tied to pain patches made by Johnson & Johnson and Mylan Laboratories.

But I have to say this: Why is there always so much emphasis on addiction?!
Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, N.J., added warnings to the patch's label last July, saying doctors should not prescribe them for patients who cannot tolerate similar drugs or who might be prone to abusing them.

The patches, introduced in 1990, release the opiate fentanyl through the skin. Researchers say fentanyl can cause addiction or death in some users.

What does addiction have to do with this lawsuit or this woman's death? It's no wonder we're viewed with such skepticism for seeking proper treatment of our pain. This fixation on the possibility of addiction is pervasive.

According to this article, it is believed that the patch leaked, delivering a lethal overdose.

An interesting perspective on patient/doctor relationships:

Why We Like the Doctors We Like
My point is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a young doctor or an experienced specialist. You can be compassionate or condescending toward your patients. You can take the same amount of time you have with a patient and either make it high quality or hurried and disrespectful.

I was so impressed with Dr. Baker that I wrote him a thank you note. I took pains to describe why I liked him and what he did that made me feel good as a patient. I want him to never lose the wonderful way he behaves toward his patients. And if/when I have kids, I’d take them to Dr. Baker.

I love this idea. I'm sure I'm not alone in having had a few bad experiences with doctors. I wish they hadn't happened, but they sure do make me grateful for the good experiences. And every good doctor deserves our kudos.

Sometimes a simple remedy works really well:

Heat 'relieves internal pain'
"The heat doesn't just provide comfort and have a placebo effect - it actually deactivates the pain at a molecular level in much the same way as pharmaceutical painkillers," said Brian King, a senior lecturer in physiology at University College London, who led the research.

Dr King found that if heat of more than 40C (104F) is applied to the skin near where internal pain is felt, it switches on heat receptors at the site of injury. These in turn block the body's ability to detect pain.

Given these numbers, chances are that someone reading this will benefit from asking more questions about pain and treatment options.

People In Pain Confused About Pain Relievers And Missing Out On Effective Treatment
- Up to 64% of people feel that conflicting information about pain medications makes it confusing to know what to take

- Up to 78% of people feel they don't know enough about the benefits and risks of pain medications (either prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, or both).

When your doctor suggests or prescribes something to treat your pain, make sure you ask for any clarification you need. And follow up if the medication isn't performing as expected. If your doctor isn't willing to answer your questions or work with you to treat your pain, find someone else!

The findings of this study seem to indicate a relationship between migraine disease and microvascular disease, damage to the body's smallest blood vessels, which is often associated with diabetes:

Eye artery narrowing seen in migraine
Adults who suffer from bouts of migraine without aura have slightly narrower retinal blood vessels, or arterioles, than adults without migraine, research shows. The finding supports the hypothesis that microvascular disease may be associated with certain types of migraine, investigators note in a report in the journal Headache.

The results of this National Headache Foundation survery, discussed in detail at About Headaches & Migraines, may help you decide where to seek immediate care for an unrelenting migraine. It would certainly be worthwhile to examine your options before you find yourself in this situation.

Headache or Migraine Emergency: ER? Urgent Care?
The results of the NHF survey clearly show that the participants had far more positive experiences at urgent care facilities than emergency rooms. If you are a headache or Migraine sufferer who occasionally needs emergency care, this is absolutely something to keep in mind. If your healthcare is covered by insurance, however, it would be prudent to check in advance to see if care at an urgent care facility is covered by your insurance plan. Some plans cover ER visits, but not UC visits. Some will cover either, but only if you are referred there by your primary physician. To avoid these issues, check with your insurance provider before you need emergency care.

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