You probably associate methadone with heroin recovery clinics. Now it’s associated with state-run medicine. And iatrogenic fatalities.
Washington State’s “Washington Rx” is a medical assistance program that’s been in operation less than a decade, providing a drug discount card to those with low incomes and regulating prescriptions for Medicaid patients. The biggest challenge? Rising prescription drug prices — which places many drugs out of reach of poor and non-insured folks, and jeopardizes state finances with a financial hole to suck up ever-increasing amounts of money.
How to economize?
The board responsible for Washington Rx policy has pushed cheaper drugs. For pain medication, effective but expensive drugs like Oxycodone were swapped out for that old synthetic opioid, methadone, which is ultra-cheap. This saved the state millions.
Well, the problem with methadone is that it’s hard to control dose. The drug lingers in the body, builds up. It turns out to be rather easy to pass away during sleep of an accidental overdose. “Doctors,” a fascinating Seattle Times report informs us, “call it the silent death.”
Methadone overdose rates have radically increased in the Evergreen State, especially in poorer communities. Since Washington Rx set up shop, 2,173 Washingtonians have died of methadone overdose; an overwhelming majority of all overdose cases are from this one drug.
Programs in other states also list methadone as a preferred drug, and methadone overdoses are on the rise nationwide.
We are often told of the horrors of private insurers and their dastardly cost-cutting practices. But here’s a bureaucracy cutting costs. And effectively, too.
With a side-effect: killing people.
That’s hardly Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.