Duterte painkiller use draws concern in Philippines
MANILA – Agence France-Presse
AFP photoPhilippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s admission that he used a powerful painkiller has prompted concern about his health, with lawmakers urging him on Dec. 18 to undergo a medical examination and disclose the results.
Duterte on Dec. 12 revealed that he used to take fentanyl, often prescribed for cancer pain and other chronic ailments, because of a spinal injury from previous motorcycle accidents.
He however said his doctor made him stop using it on learning he was “abusing the drug” by using more than the prescribed patches.
The firebrand leader has attracted controversy over his war against suspected users of illegal drugs, which has claimed thousands of lives, and his incendiary language against the United States and the United Nations.
Lawmakers said Duterte’s remarks revived speculation about his health, including rumors during the election campaign that he suffered from cancer -- a claim Duterte repeatedly denied.
“To end this speculation, it would be better if his physician explains how the president manages the pain that he suffers,” Duterte ally congressman Carlos Zarate told AFP.
Zarate added that a medical bulletin would clarify the state of Duterte’s health, as fentanyl became controversial after pop legend Prince died of an accidental overdose of the drug in April.
Fentanyl, highly potent and addictive, is estimated to be up to 100 times stronger than morphine.
An outspoken Duterte critic, Senator Leila de Lima, supported Zarate’s call.
“It is not just the illness itself that we should be worried about, but also the impact or side effects that the medications he is taking may have, especially on his lucidity and ability to make decisions with a clear mind.”