Boxing legend Muhammad Ali used the rope-a-dope fighting style during his 1974 Rumble in the Jungle match against George Foreman to bring his opponent to his knees.
But we’re pretty sure he never imagined that 44 years later, pharmaceutical companies would be encouraging the elderly to a take-a-dope, wearing them down for profit. (OxyContin has made over $31 billion in sales.)
That’s just what a suit by the state of Oregon against Purdue Pharma claims. Using the Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities Abuse Prevention Act, the Oregon Department of Justice says that Purdue (the makers of OxyContin) targeted the elderly.
In 2015, for every 100,000 seniors in Oregon, nearly 700 people 65 and older were sent to the hospital because of opioids. And the suit says, the company focused on long-term-care facilities and urged doctors to prescribe opioids at higher dosages than were safe for people over 65.
The lawsuit also states: Purdue minimized the risks of abuse and addiction of its opioids. It also alleges Purdue falsely claimed that OxyContin posed a lower threat of abuse and addiction than other painkillers and increased function for patients with chronic pain.
That’s tough stuff, but they’re not the only folks saying it. From Colorado to Tennessee, states across the country are filing suits against the company.
And as far back as 2007, the company and three executives pleaded guilty in federal court to criminal charges that they misled regulators, doctors and patients about OxyContin’s addictive powers and agreed to pay to more than $600 million in fines and other payments.
I guess that’s why the United States has 4.6 percent of the world’s population, but consumes 80 percent of the world’s opioids!
But OxyContin isn’t the only medication that’s got older folks on the ropes. Take the recent study found 25 percent of older Americans who are prescribed Xanax or Valium to help them sleep or quell anxiety become hooked.
Since 9 to 12 percent of women and about 5 to 6 percent of men 65 or older are prescribed the drug, that’s up to 2,205,000 addicted oldsters.
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
As a society we look for shortcuts. We give or take a pill instead of exerting the effort necessary to improve well-being through lifestyle choices (nutrition, exercise, sleep, destressing and avoiding toxins).
Whatever the cause, these days it’s fair to say that we’re living in a society where many people don’t know how to age with vigor and dignity. Witness the fact that 90 million have diabetes or prediabetes, 100 million live with chronic pain and around 60 million experienced an anxiety disorder during the past year. Many of these conditions can be remedied with proper diet and exercise.
Whatever your age, take the opportunity to change your future by reducing pain and anxiety:
>> Learn about Sharecare’s 12-step Stress Management Plan.
>> Lose weight if you need to.
>> Improve your nutrition by eliminating highly processed foods and red meats, and going for fruits, veggies and 100 percent whole grains.
>> Get moving by walking, doing pool exercises, chair-based yoga, strength-building exercises and stretching.
As your body helps you control pain, you’ll sleep better, dispel stress and increase your enjoyment of life. Then, if truly needed, pain and anti-anxiety medications may be smart to take and effective. But don’t ever let them put you on the ropes!
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.