Somehow, it’s hard to believe that Dr. Wayne Longmore was a drug dealer. That’s apparently what he’s being charged with. He doesn’t seem to be a guy, despite what may seem to be a disorganized business model and one with an extraordinarily heavy load placed on one person, who would just write prescriptions for cash. That’s just an opinion here, and it’s in the face of an extremely damning complaint filed by federal prosecutors.
If we can assume our opinion for a moment — and the federal government will have ample opportunity to prove otherwise in court — there are a few questions that sit on the table that we’d want to see answered before consigning the doctor to permanent purgatory, or worse.
First, the investigation was said to be three years in the making. Dr. Longmore’s practice was under the supervision of the Committee for Physician’s Health for five years after his license to practice was restored in 2005. The investigation began in 2009, but Longmore was under supervision until 2010. Did the oversight committee see anything? We presume it had the mission to guide Dr. Longmore’s practice…why did it say nothing? If there were abuses of the kind of which he is accused, why was he not confronted, warned, or cited for them by this oversight committee?
The complaint filed against him says that 85 percent of all prescriptions written by Longmore from December 15, 2010 and January 17, 2012 were for hydrocodone, the offending drug here. He says that it was only about 25 percent. Though we’ve asked about, we haven’t found any statistics as to the approximate ‘proper’ ratio of prescription painkillers to other medications that are written by physicians.
Here are some general drug facts we’ve been able to glean from other sources. The department of Health and Human Services says that painkillers are the most commonly abused prescription drugs and that the U.S., despite being only 4.6 percent of the world’s population, is the world’s largest consumer of painkillers, using 71 percent of the world’s oxycodone and 99 percent of the world’s hydrocodone, or Vicodin. In 1991 there were 40 million prescriptions for painkillers worldwide, but by 2001, there were 180 million painkiller prescriptions, most of them in the U.S. That number has grown exponentially in the last decade.
The Center for Disease Control says that over the last 10 years, the percentage of Americans who took at least one prescription drug (not necessarily a narcotic) in the past month increased from 44 percent to 48 percent. The use of two or more drugs increased from 25 percent to 31 percent. The use of five or more drugs increased from 6 percent to 11 percent.
In 2007–2008, 1 out of every 5 children and 9 out of 10 older Americans reported using at least one prescription drug in the past month. Among older Americans (aged 60 and over), more than 76 percent used two or more prescription drugs and 37 percent used five or more.
What’s that all mean? Well, we live longer and we take a lot of drugs, and a lot of it is Vicodin. There appears to be a blurry line, everywhere.
What it means for Woodstock is that the Walk-In Clinic is closed, not to be reopened soon. Judging by the response in town, a valuable resource to many has been lost. If, as the complaint alleges, the doctor was selling prescriptions just for cash, then, goodbye. If questionable judgment was the culprit, he should have been counseled, as he was being watched. Where does that sit on the blurry line?++