From patients to addiction, the consequences of the closure of the SC pharmaceutical factory are “a mess” plagued the victims – mahrgan

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Pain Relief Beach

Twenty years ago, in Myrtle Beach, the authorities closed the first “pill factory” in the United States. No one knows that the opioid crisis in this country has just begun.


This seems to be just another car accident. The kind that everyone encounters several times in their lives.

Jennifer Altman drove home after a day of errands, slowed down at a red light on Paper Mill Road, and suddenly felt the back of the car vibrate, and then the front vibrated again.

The 22-year-old Surfside Beach is a mother of two children, and she thinks that her bumper car trips outside of the noon plan are secondary. Even when she discovered that her car was completely damaged, it seemed to be a small setback.

But the facts have proved that the shipwreck accident was a critical moment, which caused her to fall into a downward orbit. Soon, she ran out of her monthly salary within a few days. She was calling strangers all night. She was cheating on friends and family, being destroyed by an obsession she had never seen before. It is called OxyContin.

It (once) was like running around in circles, making wrong decisions, running around and lying, doing things I never thought I would do,” she said.

It all started after the car accident in 1999. Altman thinks she just needs some physical therapy to help relieve the resulting back pain.

When her doctor prescribed a low-dose OxyContin (10 mg pills twice a day), she began to feel normal, which seemed to be the first time in her life.

Scoliosis is a type of scoliosis that has caused her chronic pain for many years.

“It’s almost like (OshContin) is something missing in my brain,” Altman recalled.

Whenever she was weak, she would go back to her doctor, saying that she still had some mild pain while establishing tolerance, and then returned to the pharmacist with a prescription for an increased dose of a powerful anesthetic.

Altman regularly takes four 80 mg OxyContin pills a day. When she came back to see the doctor regularly, she saw police tape wrapped around the Myrtle Beach Clinic. The sign on the door reads: “To our patients-due to the recent sanctions imposed by the US Drug Enforcement Administration on us, we are currently closed.”

Within a few weeks, she was buying OxyContin on the street, spending hundreds of dollars a day, most of the time taking a drug addiction that she didn’t realize until it was too late.

She is one of approximately 3,000 patients who passed the gate of the Comprehensive Care and Pain Management Center on the North Kings Highway. Authorities closed the Myrtle Beach Clinic in June 2001 and federally accused eight of its doctors of abusing opioids.

When they came to the clinic, some of the patients had become addicted to OxyContin-because news of this “pill factory” quickly spread throughout South Carolina. But for others like Ultraman, this is where it all started.

Since then, Myrtle Beach and surrounding communities have been struggling to cope with the consequences, because the painkiller problem has slowly turned into an epidemic of heroin and fentanyl, directly causing hundreds of people here and hundreds of thousands of people across the country to take drugs. Overdose death.

‘A mess’

According to “Sun News” previously reported, the number of visitors seeking help due to OxyContin addiction immediately surged within a few months after the emergency room and treatment center of Horry County Hospital closed to the comprehensive care center.

“(The consequences) were a mess,” recalls Dr. Brian Adler, a Surfside Beach physician who specializes in addiction treatment. “This is indeed when the entire opioid epidemic has just begun and has just begun.”

Adler said that some of his patients still suffer from addictions that were initially fueled by comprehensive care. He explained that he has seen several different cycles in his medical career because this is not the same as the prevalence of prescription opioids. Consensus is related.

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November 13, 2001: The Comprehensive Care and Pain Management Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina closed after the DEA suspended its doctors’ license to prescribe anesthetics. Eight clinicians will be charged with opioid abuse.Wade Speth Originally for the New York Times

In the 1980s and most of the 1990s, medical standards required doctors to prescribe medications very conservatively due to fears of addiction and drug overdose, but then changed in the late 1990s, fearing that they did not properly treat people with pain , Adler said.

“Pharmaceutical companies are pushing for prescriptions (opioids) and trying to convince prescribers that they are very safe drugs with great potential to treat pain with few side effects,” he said.

But in Myrtle Beach, the downside quickly became apparent. According to the negligent death lawsuit, at least five deaths due to drug overdose were directly related to the narcotics prescribed by the Comprehensive Care Center.

‘The bait is so fast’

One of the dead was 31-year-old Richard Way.

His mother told The Sun News that he worked as a waiter for a long time at several high-end restaurants in Myrtle Beach (including Thoroughbreds Chophouse), and he seemed to have a good time with everyone he met Friends, and like to listen to Grateful Dead music.

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Richard Way is a graduate of Myrtle Beach High School. He worked as a waiter in many restaurants in Horry County. He took opioids on December 13, 2000. He died from an overdose, and he prescribed a prescription at the Comprehensive Care and Pain Management Center. He is one of five overdose deaths related to the pain clinic.Photo courtesy of Sara Francis Way submitted

His family knew he was addicted to drugs, but when Sara Francis Way received a call about her son’s drug overdose on December 13, 2000, she thought it was alcohol.

“I didn’t even know he was going to the (pain clinic),” she said, only to find out later that he had been a patient in the comprehensive care center for about two months.

“He must have taken the bait soon. I saw him on Thanksgiving in November of that year. (He and I) thought his behavior was a bit stupid, but I don’t know why. (His death) was very for me. difficult.”

According to the Johns Hopkins Medical Center, although everyone is unique, after a few weeks of active use of opioids, people usually develop dependence on opioids in the body. Some studies have shown that even The first dose will also have a psychological impact.

Seven months later, Dr. Benjamin Moore, the doctor who prescribed Richard Way his anesthetic, committed suicide and faced 45 years in prison after admitting to illegally prescribing opioids.

“I feel sympathy and sadness for (Moore’s) mother,” Sara Francis Way recalled. “I know her pain.”

Robert Edge, the coroner of Horry County for the past 30 years, said that the most serious part of the opioid epidemic is the forgotten people.

“Most (victims of drug overdose) are well-educated people; they (have) a good life they can live, the family they leave behind,” he said. “This painkiller catches you and makes your desires go beyond your logical thinking.”

The daily struggle of addiction

The first is disgusting. Then stomach pain and severe leg cramps. But compared to the constant trembling of the whole body and watery eyes, these were nothing. All of this was magnified by the fact that she could not sleep for several days.

“I just think I’m dying,” Altman recalled her withdrawal symptoms after she ran out of prescription OxyContin for the first time.

She and her husband at the time opened a local bar, and she knew that one of her regular customers was in touch. After making three phone calls, about an hour later, she paid $50 each for 80 mg pills.

“I thought we made a lot of money, we are rich, and I will be fine,” Altman said. “I just want to wean myself is my idea. I will only eat less than I, and eat less the next day.”

“But it doesn’t work like that.”

Stumbled to the medicine cabinet in the morning. She took the last remaining pills. The night before she strategically kept it as it was, knowing that she needed it the next day to start looking for more pills.

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May 21, 2002: 40 mg OxyContin tablets JEFF SINER Charlotte Observer File Photo

Altman recalled that the rest of the day was full of stress, bathroom phone calls, late night rides and excuses.

“You will calm down as soon as you buy something, and then start again when you run out,” she said, even after so many years, the fatigue in her voice is still obvious.

Altman will find any excuses to use: too hot, too cold or raining; she is angry, angry or sad.

“I obviously didn’t have the contact with my family as I should,” she said. “I got divorced, remarried, and almost divorced again.”

Looking for treatment

Altman took a pregnancy test in the bathroom of her church—two colored lines indicate a positive result—and returned to the bench with renewed optimism. But this feeling quickly faded.

“I want to wash it,” she said, but of course she told herself that every day for years.

When her husband and friends confronted her during the planned intervention, Altman furiously drove to a nearby convenience store and hid the OxyContin pill in her pocket.

But after 48 hours, after a long discussion with her mother and husband, she was ready to try treatment.

In 2003, Altman switched to methadone, another opiate that is often used under strict medical supervision to help treat addiction.

“I knew I had to make changes,” she told Sun News in December 2003, just a few weeks after the birth of her son Oliver, she was very healthy.

Altman said that Oliver recently turned 18 and is about to start college.

“It’s really difficult, but when I’m done, I’m done,” she said. “Not everyone is like this.”

Jennifer Altman.jpeg
Jennifer Altman (center) took a photo with her daughter Saidi (left) and son Oliver in October 2020, both of whom were born during Ultraman’s methadone treatment. Altman had previously become addicted to OxyContin.Courtesy of Jennifer Altman submitted

Altman is one of hundreds of beneficiaries in a class action lawsuit filed by clinic patients against comprehensive care, its doctors, and OxyContin’s manufacturer Purdue Pharmaceuticals.

She received enough money to cover five years of treatment, although she was still taking methadone for 12 years before transitioning to buprenorphine, another opioid used to treat addiction.

Purdue Pharma is currently in the final stages of bankruptcy, which may leave billions of dollars to state and local governments to deal with the opioid epidemic, while exempting its owner’s company from further civil and criminal liability.

Adler said he doubts whether most of the money will go to ordinary people with opioid use disorders.

Altman was disappointed to hear that the executives of Purdue Pharmaceuticals might escape criminal responsibility, and pointed out that there are many responsibilities that can be resolved, including her former doctors.

“It’s basically synthetic heroin, they just gave it to people,” she said.

Read the next article: From OxyContin to Fentanyl, the current drug epidemic in Myrtle Beach is “bigger than ever”

Profile picture of David Weissman

Investigative project reporter David Weissman joined Sun News in 2018 after working at The York Dispatch in Pennsylvania for three years. He was awarded the South Carolina Press Association and Keystone Media Award. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 2014.

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