As noted by an August 20, 2009 Medill Reports article, "In July, an advisory panel recommended to the FDA the ban of the painkillers Vicodin and Percocet.
A month later, one thing the experts still haven't recommended is an alternative" ("Docs Cringe at the Thought of Painkillers Taken Off the Market").
The re-trial of Doctor William Hurwitz came to an end in July 2007. He was convicted twice of trafficking in narcotics, first in 2004, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Wexler improperly told jurors they could not consider whether Hurwitz acted in 'good faith' when he prescribed large doses of medicine. He has been in jail for about 2 1/2 years." According to the Post, "Patient advocates portrayed Hurwitz as heroic, saying that he only tried to help suffering people who had nowhere else to turn.
The doctor's sentence was reduced to less than five years. The Washington Post reported on July 14, 2007 ("VA Pain Doctor's Prison Term Is Cut To 57 Months") that "A prominent pain doctor who received a 25-year prison term three years ago for drug trafficking was re-sentenced yesterday to less than five years by a judge who concluded during his retrial that he helped far more patients than he hurt. An appeals court threw out that verdict last year, saying that prosecutors had presented 'powerful evidence' but that U. Hurwitz, a major figure in the growing field of pain management who was profiled on '60 Minutes,' said he viewed himself the same way as his supporters.
When she first took the case, Brinkema said she thought the dosages that Hurwitz prescribed were 'absolutely crazy.' But she said defense witnesses turned her around.
' An increasing body of respectable medical literature and expertise supports those types of high-dosage, opioid medications,' the judge said." The Post noted that "The first jury convicted Hurwitz on 50 counts, including trafficking that caused the death of one patient and seriously injured two others.
One of the questions: Why should the executives not be sent to jail?Medill claimes that "Even more than concerns about addiction, experts question the effect of opiod[sic]/acetaminophen compounds - commonly found in painkillers - on the liver." The article reports that "some doctors" thus "have mixed feelings about the possible ban;" Dr.David Perry, director of the Pharmacology Graduate Program at George Washington University warns that "the presence of acetaminophen is toxic in high doses." However, Perry also cautions readers that "anything could be toxic" including Vitamin C and "even so-called natural products." Doctors' largest worry, however, appears to relate to the lack of alternatives available for treating pain.Additionally, "On June 30, another FDA advisory panel recommended reducing a single adult dose of any acetaminophen from 1,000 milligrams to 650 milligrams - and making Tylenol available by prescription only." The recommendations resulted both from the panel's concerns about the prescription pain relievers' addictive properties as well as the effect of one of their active ingredients, acetaminophen, on users livers.However, the doctors with whom Medill, an arm of Northwestern University, seem relatively united against the recommendations, questioning both the panels' major concerns: addiction and liver damage.