Two Public Health Crises in Need of Sensible Solutions
Editor’s Note: This guest editorial is by Anthony Viscogliosi, Dh.C, founding partner of Viscogliosi Brothers, LLC and CEO of MCRA, LLC, companies which invest in and provide regulatory consulting in the medical technology industry. He is one of the most prolific investors, leaders, and mentors in the orthopaedic and spine industry. Like most of us, he was shocked by the loss of Preston Phillips, M.D., a spine surgeon. This guest editorial is, in part, his reaction and call to action.
The June 1, 2022, tragic and senseless shooting of a surgeon and three others at a medical office in Tulsa was the latest grim reminder that gun violence is a major public health crisis in this country, and sensible reforms of gun laws are critically needed if we are to properly respond.
As evidence of this shooting emerges, it seems this Tulsa tragedy may in fact have been the confluence of two national public health crises—the crisis of gun violence and the crisis of opioid addiction. And if something is not done about both—and soon—we are likely to see even more horrific violence.
This attack feels personal to me. For more than 20 years, I have spent my career investing in innovations in the medical technology field, and time and again it has involved working with world-class surgeons to develop newer, better, and non-addictive ways to manage pain.
I have worked with numerous first-rate healthcare providers who have acknowledged that the rush over the past two decades to numb medical pain with highly addictive opiates has caused skyrocketing addiction rates and a disturbing rise in mental health issues.
When you combine that with the absurdly simple access to firearms that we have in our country—as reports indicate was the case in the Tulsa shootings—it becomes a lethal cocktail that has claimed countless lives.
The cycle is a brutal one—someone in pain uses opioids to temporarily feel better, but it soon wears off and more and more is desired. It takes a devastating toll on not only the body but also the mind, and in so many cases with people spiraling into addiction, they will do anything—including commit shocking acts of violence—to make it go away, even if for a little while.
Enough is enough. Here is what I would like to see done about it.
While we hopefully will finally see progress on meaningful gun control laws—something I support as a gun owner and military veteran—we also need to see serious progress in fighting the opioid addiction epidemic.
Treatment for those suffering from addiction is imperative, but it doesn’t go to the root of the issue—we need to find ways for people to manage their pain without becoming addicted to dangerous narcotics. We will never address the crisis without addressing the core of addiction, which is the drugs themselves. To do so would be akin to saying that bulletproof vests are the best solution to gun violence.
Pain management without opioids? I know it is not only possible but happening right now—my businesses have invested tens of millions of dollars in pain management systems that do not involve opioids, and we have seen firsthand that it works. What we need is the medical technology industry and medical professionals to form a coalition and agree to invest our time and resources in this space and move away from opioid-based treatment.
While this is where my company is going, we would all be much stronger if others joined us and worked side-by-side with surgeons, physicians, and healthcare providers. We need to hear from them what they need to safely and effectively treat patients.
We have seen too much crushing addiction in America, and we have seen too much gun violence, and now we have seen what can happen when these two storms meet head-on. It would be naïve to say we can solve both crises overnight, but we know that progress can be made.
We know that improved background checks, better screenings, waiting periods and the banning of certain military-type grades of weaponry for civilian use can save lives—it’s happened before, and it’s worked.
And I know that not only can pain be managed without addictive drugs, but surgeons and medical professionals with whom I have worked prefer it. We just need more of it—more investment, more innovation and more buy-in from those in the medical technology world who can genuinely make a difference.
This how we prevent horrifying acts like the Tulsa mass-killings from ever happening again. And this is how we can finally, finally reverse the cycle of addiction and despair. It won’t be easy, but the necessary steps—pressuring lawmakers to do the right thing on sensible gun control and bringing the medical technology field together on non-addictive pain management—are there for the taking.
I am all-in on this fight. Will you join me?
To learn more about Anthony, his brothers, and the VB Investment Network: https://www.vbcoinvestornetwork.com/