The Painless Solution to a $500 Billion Problem

  • A costly and painful problem: It affects you or someone you know
  • Painkillers and the feds’ witch hunt against doctors and pharmacists
  • What if science developed a nonaddictive but powerful painkiller?
  • Chinese creating billionaires faster than Americans, but with an asterisk
  • Brexit set to cause more market turmoil… but hey, Louis Vuitton bags are cheap!
  • The elites’ Russia bashing, and what it portends once the election’s over

It afflicts more than one-third of the U.S. population. It’s a $500 billion drain on the U.S. economy every year. The company or companies that solve it will do a great service to mankind… to say nothing of making early investors rich.
“It” is chronic, undertreated pain — pain that lasts 30–60 days or more. The causes are legion. They might be cancer or multiple sclerosis. Then again, they might be garden-variety arthritis or back pain.
But whatever the causes, a 2011 study by the Institute of Medicine found serious chronic pain causes distress to 116 million Americans every year. The medical bills, missed work and lost productivity cost $560–635 billion a year.
“Pain is an experience that affects virtually every one of our citizens,” said Stanford School of Medicine Dean Philip Pizzo, chairman of the committee that wrote the report. “For many patients, chronic pain becomes a disease itself.”
Indeed, pain can persist long after the condition or injury it came with has gone away. For some, it’s a mere inconvenience. For others, it’s incapacitating. It can also set off depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.
And much of it goes untreated. “Pain patients have long been viewed with skepticism and suspicion, rather than understanding, presenting a barrier to care,” said Time magazine. “Rising rates of prescription drug misuse, addiction and overdose have further led to the establishment of legal and regulatory barriers, such as prescription databases, that can prevent even legitimate pain patients from getting much-needed drugs.”
Five years after the Institute of Medicine sounded the alarm, the government remains oblivious.
Back in March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidelines for doctors: Opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin should not be a first choice to treat chronic back pain or arthritis.
Oy… It’s not as if doctors were handing out opioid pills like M&Ms to begin with. “The DEA,” said a 2012 Huffington Post story, “has been scaring reputable doctors away from pain management since the late 1990s. People who suffer from chronic pain simply can’t find doctors willing to treat them over the long term. The unscrupulous doctors and pill mills in the headlines have sprung up to fill the void.”
Doctors got scared off as the feds pursued witch hunts targeting doctors like Virginia pain specialist William Hurwitz. Among hundreds of his patients, 15 of them were reselling the drugs he prescribed to them — by all accounts, without his knowledge.
The feds could have enlisted Hurwitz to identify the dealers posing as patients. Instead the feds cut plea deals with the dealers and went after Hurwitz.
In 2007, Hurwitz was convicted on 16 counts of distribution. The judge sentenced him to four years and nine months. And the judge went easy on him, recognizing he was no drug pusher; prosecutors wanted a far stiffer sentence.
Fast-forward to 2016 and “not a week goes by that there isn’t a medical professional arrested somewhere in the United States for bad prescribing practices, for the death of a patient who overdosed or for outright prescription fraud,” says a story at the Very Well website.
“If your doctor is caught prescribing too much of any controlled substance to you, it puts him or her in that same position. If you overdose, he or she can be charged in your death.”
One of the unintended consequences of the opioid crackdown — a revival of heroin.
In Florida — which got a reputation as pill-mill central over the years — the feds and state authorities alike lowered the boom on pharmacists starting in 2011. They stepped up enforcement of a doctrine called “corresponding responsibility” that holds pharmacies legally responsible for making sure the drugs they sell will be used for a “legitimate medical purpose.”
“The net effect of the crackdown in Florida was profound and acute,” says The Daily Beast. “Prescription drug deaths dropped precipitously within the first year — but heroin deaths rose 39%, as patients cut off from legal opioids turned to illegal drugs for relief. At medical conferences, physicians began discussing the plight of these new ‘opioid refugees.’”
We don’t mean to underplay the addiction issues with prescription painkillers; they’re very real. But as usual, government’s ham-handed response makes a bad situation worse.
But if government can’t solve the addiction issues… science can. Which brings us back to the quest for a drug that can relieve chronic pain without the side effects.
It’s no exaggeration to say a company that can pull it off will achieve the biggest breakthrough in pharmaceuticals since the creation of aspirin.
As it happens, FDA approval for just a drug might be just months away. And the company behind it has no effective competition.
The profit potential — up to 17,042%. You can see the math behind that number — and how it could mean up to $1.7 million in your pocket — when you follow this link.
Finally, what feels like a normal “risk off” day in the markets. Stocks are slumping and bonds are rallying.
At last check, the Dow had shed more than 100 points on the day; the 18,000 level is in jeopardy. Bonds are rallying; the yield on a 10-year Treasury is back to 1.75%. Gold is holding its own at $1,257.
There’s no obvious catalyst for the market action; the mainstream is chalking it up to some weak economic numbers from China and — what else? — uncertainty about the Federal Reserve. But we’re hard-pressed to say what the uncertainty’s about.
Yesterday afternoon, the Fed released the minutes from its September meeting. As we’re always keen to remind you, Fed “minutes” aren’t an objective record of who said what. They’re not like the minutes from your local library board. They aim to telegraph a specific message — in this case, that a rate increase is still on for December. But the market is already pricing in that likelihood.
Maybe — just maybe, hang with us here — traders are realizing there’s nothing in the economy or corporate earnings to justify an 18,000 Dow. Crazy thought, we know…
Elsewhere, the trader chatter is about the ouster of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf — a sacrificial lamb for the opening-bogus-accounts-to-meet-sales-targets scandal. His replacement, Tim Sloan, has been groomed to take Stumpf’s place for years, so it’s not as if the culture at WF is going to substantially change.
For the record: The billionaire gap between China and the United States is growing.
The Hurun Report, a magazine catering to the Middle Kingdom’s wealthy, counts 594 Chinese billionaires, compared with 535 in the United States. Topping the list is Wang Jianlin, chief of the conglomerate Dalian Wanda, with a net worth of $32.1 billion.
Curiously, that’s not enough to crack even the top 20 when it comes to billionaires worldwide.
For the moment, the British pound has come to rest at $1.22… but Jim Rickards says the long-term trend remains down.
The pound crashed in late June from $1.47 to $1.31 after the “surprise” outcome of the Brexit referendum — although Jim figured all along a yes vote was a distinct possibility. At the time, he warned the story wasn’t over and more market shocks were to come.
Earlier this month, the next shoe dropped, says Jim: “New U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech on Oct. 2 saying that she favored a ‘hard Brexit’ approach, meaning that the EU exit process would start promptly and be concluded as soon as possible with a minimum of concessions to the EU. This raised the prospect of EU tariffs on U.K. goods and sent the pound down decisively through the $1.30 barrier. Then on Oct. 4, the ECB raised the possibility of a European QE ‘taper,’ which combined with rising expectations of a Fed rate hike to send gold plunging.
“In short, the Brexit, U.K. and EU stories are just beginning. We expect a much lower pound, higher euro and higher gold prices by mid-2017. But there will be a lot of volatility between now and then.”
In the meantime, Americans can pick up Louis Vuitton handbags in London for a song.
The research firm Deloitte finds luxury goods cost less in Britain than anywhere else — if you’re buying with dollars, that is.
A Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 handbag cost $802 last week (645 pounds) — a veritable bargain compared with $850 in Paris (760 euros), $970 in New York and $1,115 (7450 yuan) in Shanghai.

A bargain in Britain…

Note well that Chinese difference: Not coincidentally, China’s wealthy drove a 70% year-over-year increase in spending by foreign customers at British shopping malls owned by the Westfield firm. “What we have seen is Chinese tourists bulk-buying designer items,” chief marketing officer Myf Ryan tells the BBC.
“The current bickering and name calling between the pro-Hillary and pro-Trump camps indicates things won’t change (for the better, anyway) anytime soon,” writes one of our regulars — dragging us kicking and screaming back to the stupid presidential election.
“Washington, both parties, have a vested interest in keeping voters divided, distracted and fighting with each other. Each side believes the other is at fault and everything will be so much better if only the other side would wake up and elect their candidates.
“As long as we remain divided against each other, there will be no movement to throw most of them out of office.
“The fact is both parties have been in control and are jointly responsible for driving this country to the brink over the last 60 years.
“And when they aren’t keeping us divided against each other, they are keeping us united against other nations. Hillary and many establishment Republicans are now beating the war drums against Russia (I expect patriotic war movies to begin hitting theaters soon).
“War is when the government tells you who the enemy is; revolution is when you finally figure it out for yourself.”
“This was an excellent analogy,” reads another email after our retort to a reader who uncritically accepts Washington’s narrative about Russia. We said the reader probably believes unemployment is really 5% too.
“I would ask the readers this: If you believe what you read and hear regarding the economy and our politicians, as published by the government and the MSM, is part false and part true, why would you take it at 100% true regarding anything else they publish? Thanks to the internet, there are hundreds of news sources available outside the borders of our country, and while not all of what you read is 100% true, it does give you another viewpoint to consider.
“A good example is Ukraine and Crimea. Anyone who is familiar with history understands the relationship between Russia and Crimea and that most importantly, after the NGO-led revolution in Ukraine in February 2014, the citizens of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to align with Russia and separate from Ukraine. Neither Crimea or Ukraine was invaded.
“This is not an endorsement of everything Russia does, but we all need to educate ourselves by reading reports from sources other than the MSM here in the USA.”
“Dave, Russia must be trying to start something with us, right?” says one more. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t have put their country so close to our network of military bases!
“Apparently, NATO (read: the U.S. and its cronies) has almost 800 such bases in 70-plus nations and territories globally. Of course, these are heavily concentrated in Europe and the Middle East. But according to our mainstream propaganda machine, they’re there to conduct ‘peaceful exercises.’
“Now we have two maniacal loose cannons running for president. And we’re supposed to be the good guys? I wonder who’s provoking whom.
“Thanks again to you and your team for trumpeting the truth — and tolerating the occasional cretin who crawls out from under a rock.”
The 5: Yeah, we can chuckle about it now.
“But come January,” warns Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, “Democrats will continue to be the dominant political faction in the U.S. — more so than ever — and the tactics they are now embracing will endure past the election, making them worthy of scrutiny.
“Those tactics now most prominently include dismissing away any facts or documents that reflect negatively on their leaders as fake, and strongly insinuating that anyone who questions or opposes those leaders is a stooge or agent of the Kremlin, tasked with a subversive and dangerously un-American mission on behalf of hostile actors in Moscow.”
Yep, it’s the new McCarthyism. And right now, there’s no Edward R. Murrow in sight…
Best regards,
Dave Gonigam
The 5 Min. Forecast
P.S. Jim Rickards just recently recorded a short, 63-second video about gold that you need to see.
Something very important is happening in the gold market. And it could be very good news for you — if you know what to do.
Please click here to view it now.

Dave Gonigam

Dave Gonigam

Dave Gonigam has been managing editor of The 5 Min. Forecast since September 2010. Before joining the research and writing team at Agora Financial in 2007, he worked for 20 years as an Emmy award-winning television news producer.

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