Use of Medicinal Cannabis in the Hospital

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I recently became ill with symptoms of chest pain, jaw pain/tooth pain, and scapular pain.  Since those can be signs of a heart attack, I thought I should pay attention.   I decided a long time ago, that while most Western Medicine practices just aren’t for me, I would go to the hospital if I had these particular symptoms. With my genetics, family history, and personal history of heart disease it is the wisest thing to do.

Going to the hospital is stressful in itself, but in my case, as in the case of the more than 2 million legal cannabis users nationwide (http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=005889), the stress is magnified because it is unlikely that the hospital will honor a legal user’s card and allow their medicine.  In my experience, they hide behind two policies. The first is that noone is allowed to bring in medicine of any kind from home.  While this is likely a good policy in many cases, the problem in this case is that you can’t bring it from home, and they don’t have it in their formulary for you either.  When I asked the MD in the ER at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester about it, she stated that they had “pharmaceutical drugs that acted the same way”.  That is not accurate information.  You just cannot replace the whole plant effect by isolating some of its compounds and administering them to the patient. Here is an explanation from Leafscience.com, Sept. 2014:

“Marijuana, unlike most modern day medicine, contains a wide range of chemical compounds. Scientists have identified over 60 unique molecules in cannabis known as cannabinoids, which include THC and CBD. Many other non-cannabinoid compounds are produced by the plant that also have regulatory effects.

For example, terpenes, the molecules responsible for marijuana’s smell, have been shown to block some cannabinoid receptor sites in the brain while promoting cannabinoid binding in others. As a result, terpenes are believed to affect many aspects of how the brain takes in THC or CBD, while offering various benefits of their own.

In fact, while THC has gotten most of the attention, studies suggest many of the compounds in marijuana work together to produce a synergy of effects. This is known as the ‘entourage effect.’”

The fact is, there is not one pill or injection in their formulary that can do what use of the whole plant cannabis can do for anxiety, depression, pain and inflammation.  But the doctors are still not educated on this fact despite the growing number of patients who utilize it daily for their health.

The other policy that they hide behind is their nonsmoking policy. The health professionals simply do not understand that there are other very effective routes to take with the medicine. Again, education of physicians is sorely needed to catch up with this important medicine and its health effects.

By the time I had left the hospital after my 5 day stay, my anxiety was at an all time high.  In the beginning, loved ones brought me tincture to take to keep the medicine in my system and doing its job.  But it was frightening when a nurse suggested that she smelled cannabis one night, so I stopped its use.  I really needed them to continue to determine what was wrong with my heart and complete their plan of care on that.  And I was afraid that they would ask me to leave. It just wasn’t the time to put up an argument about it.

Sure, I could have requested Valium or Xanax or something else that they had available.  For me though, that would have been a step backwards.  And while those pills may reduce the anxiety in the moment, the benefit to my health when taking them, just does not outweigh the risk, nor is the effect as therapeutic.

I’ve got to hand it to them though, if you need surgery on your heart, they sure know what they are doing.  Why not step up the treatment and not deny people necessary medicine for their other ailments when in the hospital?  It hardly was therapeutic for me to feel anxiety, fear and body pain during this problem with my heart.  I did take the opiods they offered once I realized I just wasn’t going to have the medicine I really needed.  I did so only when I really couldn’t bear the joint pain from the arthritis any longer. I was in bed much more than I ever would have been at home.  I was also unable to exercise, and my body was letting me know it wasn’t happy.  It makes little sense, and seems to me that the doctors just aren’t following their oath to “do no harm” when they deny a patient their prescribed necessary medicine and instead offer alternatives that can be very harmful.

I called the hospital after I left to get a clarification as to their exact policy on legal card carrying medicinal cannabis users.  After being bounced around department to department, I finally was sent to the patient advocacy office.  The person I spoke with did not know what the policy was. She was very polite and took my information though.  Upon her return call, she informed me that she took the question all the way to the top, and that “St. Vincent Hospital at this time does not allow medicinal cannabis of any kind in the hospital,  even from a legal patient who is registered with the state and has a prescription”.

I feel it is time that we stand up together, demand better, and fix this problem. After all, my experience was simply one example of what is happening across the U.S.  in legal states.  A legal cannabis patient should not be made to go without prescribed medicine for any reason, especially in a medical institution.  The medical establishment wouldn’t consider this for any other medication.

If you would like to join us and work on this issue, please contact wendy@bulldozerhealth.org

Take back your health America!

Peace,

Wendy Love Edge

http://www.bulldozerhealth.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The AMA Calls for Ban on Pharmaceutical Advertising

The AMA (American Medical Association) released the press release below on 11/17/15 regarding their recent decision to call for a ban on pharmaceutical advertising.  The Bulldozer Health Show has been in contact with the AMA, and they have no further statement at this time.

We are publishing  the press release though,  so that our readers and Bulldozer Health Show listeners have the most accurate information.

Please join the AMA and sign our petition to get the public health risk of pharmaceutical advertising off of television

 

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/take-prescription-drug?source=c.em&r_by=11354194

Thank you!

Peace,

Wendy Love Edge

Take back your health America!

 

 

NEWS FROM THE AMA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2015

AMA Calls for Ban on Direct to Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices

ATLANTA – Responding to the billions of advertising dollars being spent to promote prescription products, physicians at the Interim Meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) today adopted new policy aimed at driving solutions to make prescription drugs more affordable.

Physicians cited concerns that a growing proliferation of ads is driving demand for expensive treatments despite the clinical effectiveness of less costly alternatives.

“Today’s vote in support of an advertising ban reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially-driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices,” said AMA Board Chair-elect Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.”

The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs. Advertising dollars spent by drug makers have increased by 30 percent in the last two years to $4.5 billion, according to the market research firm Kantar Media.

New AMA policy also calls for convening a physician task force and launching an advocacy campaign to promote prescription drug affordability by demanding choice and competition in the pharmaceutical industry, and greater transparency in prescription drug prices and costs.

“Physicians strive to provide the best possible care to their patients, but increases in drug prices can impact the ability of physicians to offer their patients the best drug treatments,” said Dr.  Harris. “Patient care can be compromised and delayed when prescription drugs are unaffordable and subject to coverage limitations by the patient’s health plan. In a worst-case scenario, patients forego necessary treatments when drugs are too expensive.”

New AMA policy responds to deepened concerns that anticompetitive behavior in a consolidated pharmaceutical marketplace has the potential to increase drug prices. The AMA will encourage actions by federal regulators to limit anticompetitive behavior by pharmaceutical companies attempting to reduce competition from generic manufacturers through manipulation of patent protections and abuse of regulatory exclusivity incentives.

The AMA will also monitor pharmaceutical company mergers and acquisitions, as well as the impact of such actions on drug prices. Patent reform is a key area for encouraging greater market-based competition and new AMA policy will support an appropriate balance between incentives for innovation on the one hand and efforts to reduce regulatory and statutory barriers to competition as part of the patent system.

Last month, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a report saying that a high cost of prescription drugs remains the public’s top health care priority. In the past few years, prices on generic and brand-name prescription drugs have steadily risen and experienced a 4.7 percent spike in 2015, according to the Altarum Institute Center for Sustainable Health Spending.

The AMA’s new policy recognizes that the promotion of transparency in prescription drug pricing and costs will help patients, physicians and other stakeholders understand how drug manufacturers set prices. If there is greater understanding of the factors that contribute to prescription drug pricing, including the research, development, manufacturing, marketing and advertising costs borne by pharmaceutical companies, then the marketplace can react appropriately.

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Media Contact:
AMA Media Relations
(312) 464-4430
media@ama-assn.org

About the American Medical Association (AMA) The American Medical Association helps doctors help patients by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional, public health and health policy issues. The nation’s largest physician organization plays a leading role in shaping the future of medicine. For more information on the AMA, please visit http://www.ama-assn.org.