Media views of US opioid access for pain management!

Submitted by jpmoen on Thu, 2012-07-05 11:11

Weddings, vacations, reports, grants, meetings including the excitement of a well attended Palliative Care side event at the World Health Assembly have passed and it is time to get back to this blog more regularly. I thought I would review some links from over the first half of the year that tweeked my interest as it relates to PPSG’s work.

On March 22nd Dr Scott Gottlieb, Former Deputy Commissioner of the FDA (2005-7) wrote this piece, The DEA’s War of Pharmacicies and Pain Patients, in the Wall Street Journal. His premise: doctors and patients would suffer less if medical regulators were put in charge of monitoring opiate consumption and abuse.

  1. While the DEA’s tactics are imprudent, their underlying concerns aren’t misplaced. According to government data, 12 million people took narcotics non-medically in 2010, thus using the drugs illicitly.
  2. The problem is, the DEA may be the wrong enforcer here. It’s very difficult to separate appropriate use from illicit use with law-enforcement tools alone because much of the illegal diversion starts in the same places where legitimate prescriptions are also satisfied—with a doctor who prescribes too casually, refilling obediently when patients “lose” their prescription; or the pharmacy that knowingly fills suspicious refills from the same patients. When authorities respond with law enforcement methods, important medical distinctions get lost.

Inconvenient Truths is a blog page posted by Dr Jeffrey Junig, MD, PhD. a Pain Physician in Northern Wisconsin. While the author incorrectly makes reference to UW physicians and pharma, his enlightening blog focuses on these four statements.

  1. Some people do have chronic pain that responds to opioids.
  2. Just because some people divert opioids does not mean that other people shouldn’t have necessary pain relief.
  3. At the same time, there is no such thing as ‘complete pain control.’
  4. Being prescribed pain medications comes with certain responsibilities;….

Pain Topics is written by Stuart Leavitt, MA, PhD, a health care educator who has written about pain management and addiction issues over the last 25 years.

Solving problems of substance misuse, overdoses, and deaths certainly deserve a high priority. However, the public has a right to expect better from tax-supported agencies than clever manipulations of data and flawed arguments to advance hidden agendas. In the long run — as greater controls and restrictions are placed on the prescribing of opioid analgesics — this may prove detrimental to a very large segment of the population: the 116 million persons with chronic pain.

Dr Leavitt’s work is supported by scholars at George Mason University (Rebecca Goldin, Ph.D and Cindy Merrick) who write under the STATs banner. This piece “Propublica fumbles painkiller story, Seattle TImes scores touchdown,” addresses many of the issues of the CDC reports and also commends the work of the Seattle Times, Methadone and the politics of Pain(winner of the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Journalism).

Radley Balka of the Huffington Post has also done an insightful series of three articles on the pain issue…..

If you have more please, share the links……..