Sep 28th 2016 by leah38124 • 13 Questions • 81 Points
Hi Reddit. As the title says, my name is Dr. Lynn Webster. I’m VP of Scientific Affairs at PRA Health Sciences (PRAHS) and a past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. Much of my life I have worked to develop new, safer medications for pain and addiction. One of the areas of my research is to test abuse-deterrent formulations of pain medications. We’re in the middle of conducting these types of studies right now.
It’s no secret there’s an opioid/painkiller abuse crisis in the United States. A disturbing number of people have died due to abusing opioids. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the financial cost exceeds 78 billion dollars annually. But, of course, far more important is the cost in human lives. The CDC states opioids are involved in 40 deaths each day in America. This is a staggering number. It is equivalent to a jumbo jet airplane crashing every 10 days. No wonder every governmental agency, including the White House, is involved in trying to curb this epidemic.
Nearly everyone in America knows someone who has developed an addiction or overdosed on opioids. There is no discrimination with this disease. It affects every social economic class. While opioids are necessary and help some people, they can be dangerous if not taken as directed. They can also be made safer.
The good news is that we are working hard to make opioids and other medications safer and more effective. The company I work for, PRA Health Sciences, is continually exploring ways to make existing and new drugs safer.
The way we study the abuse potential of drugs is to give the drugs to people and ask them how much they like the drug. The goal is to reduce “liking” in drugs while retaining the needed effect on pain receptors. We have volunteers compare the new drug, or drug formulation, with a drug that is commonly abused. The FDA requires that we conduct these studies in people who use these drugs for recreational purposes. These are people who are not addicted to the drugs but who are using the medication without a prescription.
In the past few years, the FDA has approved several of these abuse deterrent formulations. Early research suggests the abuse deterrent formulations are safer and associated with less harm.
It is my hope that, one day, we will have medications that cannot be abused but will provide relief to those who need the help.
In the meantime, I am happy to respond to your questions. Ask about the clinical trials, types of drugs we study, risks of opioids, addiction, or anything in the field of pain management or addiction. I will do my best to answer your questions.
Additional Reading and Verification:
Edit: Thanks for your time, Reddit! This was a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone who asked questions–I hope it’s been informative. Feel free to continue to answer questions and I’ll try to answer as many as I can over the next day or so.
Do you like your job?
Which county do you live/work in?
Do you see this as a career or as a stepping stone on to what you really want to do?
What kind of call do you get the most?
How common are drug overdoses?
Did you vote Leave or Remain?
Who is your favourite on the GBBO?
Fish and chips or kebab?
Manchester City or Manchester United?
Tea or coffee?
What do you think about cannabis research as a potential alternative for opiates?
yes I love my job more than anything, when I'm I'll I get sad because I can't go in. I could think of nothing I'd rather be doing than something like this. I wake up every day having no idea what I'm gunna get to see or do and who I'm going to meet and it's the best feeling in the world!
Buckinghamshire but I can work anywhere from here to Portsmouth
I wouldn't mind doing this job forever, I'd love to be able to fully train in medicine but that depends on whether I'm smart enough to get in!! XD
Normally falls from elderly people or chest pain.
Depends on where you are, I get them fairly regularly where I am now, but they were way more common where I trained!
Remain, I wasn't buying the "funnelling money into the NHS" imagine my surprise when it was revoked on national television xD
Kate, she's pretty cool and she's a nurse so go her!
Fish and chips, all day every day, there's a van that delivers it to my front door... I fear I may turn into a fish...
Manchester United, all about the red devils
Surprisingly neither... I like green tea though... If that counts?
This is something that I've been recommending for some time. I've recommended the DEA reschedule cannabis so that research can be conducted more easily. It may well be a good substitute for opioids. BUT we need the research.
What are requirements to obtain your medic in UK? I know here in the US I got mine through a basic to medic bridger course. That being said, I know it tends to vary state by state and mine is only good for the state I work in, so wasn't sure how it worked on the other side of the pond. Just curious as to the different standards.
That's kind of a big request of people in excruciating pain, isn't it?
We have two different routes to go through over here. You can join the service as early as 18 as an ECA (emergency care assistant) and work your way up through the ranks until you've qualified as a paramedic, or alternatively, you can go straight to university from school and do a course called paramedic science. They do a three and a two year option (which is what I did) and it allows you to skip the other ranks and enter the job straight away at paramedic level :) it's good for the whole of the UK too and abroad!
Yes it is. That's why we need to find surrogates to help advocate for people in pain (and why I'm doing this AMA today). I'm trying to support the needs of people in pain.
Awesome! Sounds like you have a pretty wide scope, which in my opinion, is what makes being a paramedic so great, it allows you to use your tools and think on your feet.
When you say, more advanced paramedic is that something like how here in the states we have EMT-Basics, Intermediate and paramedic?
Yeah basically, they can catheterise and give antibiotics, suture and give far more drugs than we can!
No worries :D nice to hear from you!
This is a tough job for sure. I've heard lots of people can't handle it with all the terrible trauma they witness (I know I couldn't).
Are you worried about seeing anything too disturbing and having to find a new profession sooner than you might think?
Follow up, what's the worst thing you've seen so far?
To be honest there's not too much that bothers or gets to me, I think it would be sad to see a dead child which I thankfully haven't had to see... The worst thing I've seen is probably NSFW :L
I remember once rushing to try and help someone who was lying on their back at Hull train station one morning as I arrived on my way to work only to find it was a CPR dummy they were doing training with. D'oh! Do you or did you ever find yourself having to do drills like that in public places? And any idiots like me who didn't realise it was a dummy?
I've never actually done training in a public place, no! I had no idea anywhere actually did! We have specialist classrooms designed like public places and ambulances and stuff to practice so we've never had to go outside in the real world with our dummies xD x