The Pain Relief Network (PRN) has questioned whether Anna Nicole’s Autopsy Report was correct in finding she deceased due to a common sleeping pill overdose and possibly complications from an infection.

Members of the organsation HARMD (Helping America Reduce Methadone Deaths) are also incredulous at the coroner’s claim that because methadone had not been recently ingested by Smith it could not have played any role.

“That is quite incorrect, the fact is that the drug has an extremely long active life,” said Rachael Ford with HARMD. “And withdrawal dangers to the victim do not stop when the drug is eliminated from the body.”

The drug is corrosive in it’s effect, and the withdrawal syndrome can be life threatening for an extended time, even so long as weeks after the drugs use has stopped. That could easily make unorthodox methadone treatment the distal cause of Smiths death.

Most of the drug cocktail in Anna Nicoles blood, which was pinned as the proximal cause of death, can easily be understood as treatments intended to reduce methadone withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, fever and anxiety, say officials with HARMD.

“It appears that Anna Nicole may have been trying to get clean and healthy for her baby, perhaps in grim awareness that was what her son had so desired for her – but once one resorts to methadone you can be damned if you do and damned if you don’t get off it.”

According to material published on a pro methadone Web site, the addict population is well aware that weaning off methadone must be a slow well supervised process. Just as with alcohol, too fast a reduction can be as fatal as staying on the drug.

Methadone addicts often fear incarceration greatly said HARMD’s representative, as for some the sudden cessation of daily dosing has proven to be an instant death sentence.

HARMD is therefore speaking out in strong support of PRN’s demand for some assurance that a Methadone-Induced Sudden Cardiac Arrest was duly ruled out by the coroner.

It’s imperative that occurs as part of a thorough inquiry given that 6 percent of the population is genetically pre-disposed to suffer this fate. One which is caused by unpredictable cardiac rhythm problems while using methadone. ‘Withdrawals’ can also cause the heart to stop.

“The methadone epidemic will never end if we keep sweeping the manifold dangers of this insidious drug under the carpet, and further obscurating the issue by blaming the victims.”

Dr. Frank Fisher, a PRN analyst, said that “when Methadone and other medications are present in the blood of the deceased, medical examiners frequently and mistakenly offer a diagnosis of ‘combined drug intoxication’ as the cause of death.

“When it is increasingly recognised that thousands of patients in pain are actually dying from sudden cardiac arrest when they take methadone as directed by their physicians.”

HARMD supports PRN’s call for officials to set the record straight by stating whether Anna Nicole’s lungs filled with fluid as they should have been if ‘drug overdose’ were the correct diagnosis?

Or might Anna Nicole’s death have resulted from the cardio-toxicity of methadone which was ostensibly prescribed for pain? Or from the shock of methadone withdrawals.

HARMD say many addicts will pose as pain patients to receive methadone treatment.

They do this in order to avoid such a close level of monitoring as would be mandatory if treatment is delivered via addiction treatment clinics. Certain doctors knowingly play along.

“It is a great pity that the pain treatment population has suffered a forced exodus away from treatment with an inherently safe drug like Oxycontin for the target population of pain sufferers.

“It’s not right to railroad patients into a cheap treatment like methadone that is so inherently dangerous. Perhaps health insurers like to lose such patients en masse.”

HARMD wishes to highlight that not one of the 261+ lawsuits on behalf of Oxycontin addicts made it beyond a motion to dismiss for lack of standing.

Because destruction of time release matrix by addicts who acquired the drug improperly was not a forseeable use for which Purdue could be liable. Purdue indeed went ‘above and beyond’ in educating Natrionally re the risk of tampering.

Methadone however does not cause harm in the intended treatment population only via purposeful misuse, some of which does occur and can be foreseen and prevented in the addict population.

It also causes harm when taken as prescribed (in the way Ana Nicole did) and this harm is very foreseeable given recent scientific findings about cardiac risk.

If treatment providers and public policy makers are failing to take this risk in to account many people may be a risk and liability is perhaps accumulating – which is to say lives are at stake due to a refusal to admit methadone has sprouted horns.

“Anna Nicole wanted to live, she was taking health supplements and longevity medicines – HARMD hopes her doctor did not tell her the old cliche they feed addicts of – methadone will give you your life back!”

But beyond the two deaths associated with methadone in the Smith family, HARMD holds greater concerns for all addicts and pain patients.

“This problem goes beyond our shores – just today it was announced that Vietnam is to try addressing it’s HIV epidemic with a methadone program,” said officials with HARMD who believe there is a rush on to ope up new markets before the stable door gets bolted.

Flooding poorer countries with a drug lately bought into wide disrepute certainly does seem foolhardy. Mrs Ford said “we just hope the Vietnamese have gleaned some of the bad news about methadone luckily just publicised due to the death of a starlet.”

Why would anyone prescribe a potentially fatal poison to reduce an epidemic, she asks. Especially given that so many alternatives are available these days – rehabilitation, buprenorphine and even needle exchanges coupled with education are all able to address the HIV epidemic with greater safety and effeciveness per studies than methadone.

For drug safety information about methadone see the links page at www.harmd.org

http://english.people.com.cn/200703/26/eng20070326_361034.html

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/03-26-2007/0004553537&EDATE=

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