This is the first story in a four-part series about the pharmaceutical industry and the hold it has on Canada’s health-care system — swaying doctors’ opinions, funding medical schools and, ultimately, affecting the type of drugs we are prescribed.
Steve Angst’s 11-year opioid addiction started with a workplace injury.
Angst was working at a Cami Automotive assembly plant in Ontario when he injured his right shoulder in 1991. The 56-year-old, then 28, needed reconstructive surgery.
After working on his shoulder, doctors prescribed Demerol to help with the pain. A few years later, in 1993, Angst needed more surgery to repair damage resulting from a fall. Then in 1996, he needed another operation on his left shoulder.
He went to his doctor for the pain — working at the plant required repetitive motion — and was prescribed Percocet. From there, his troubles with opioids got out of control.
“I got to the point where I couldn’t do anything unless I took a Percocet,” he said.
“And then, of course, the Percocet didn’t work anymore, so I go to the doctor and they just prescribe more Percocet.”