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Why We Have to Fight Docs for Painkillers

Graham, a med student and blogger at Over My Med Body, writes about an encounter with a patient in the ER:

“‘I usually get Dilaudid and Phenergan’ [said the patient]. These are the words that start to change my diagnosis from ‘kidney stone’ to ‘drug-seeking.'”

Check out the whole story in Graham’s post, entitled “I Usually Get Dilaudid and Phenergan.”

[via Kevin, MD]

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Helping Docs Understand DEA’s Assault on Pain Meds

Is the DEA targeting docs who prescribe pain meds to make up for the agency’s past failures? Critics of the agency’s recent crackdown think so, according to a May 19 article in Medical Economics.

“‘If the battles you’re fighting are being lost, then, to win the war, find battles that you can win,’ says David Brushwood, a professor of pharmacy health care administration at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and a critic of government narcotics policy. ‘Doctors are more conspicuous and easier to find than drug dealers, and, besides, they don’t have guns and they don’t shoot back.'”

The six-page article is written for health care professionals, but it is a concise explanation of the problems that doctors face in prescribing pain meds. The recommendations it gives docs to follow when prescribing pain meds can be helpful for patients to understand how to help the doctor function within the system, thus potentially lessening the struggle to get adequate pain relief.

Pain and the Law, a website dedicated to helping health care professionals understand how to work within the law, is linked to from the Medical Economics article and is worth perusing. The site recommends these pain links for patients.

This previous blog post describes a detailed educational document on the DEA’s stance on pain meds.

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“Potheads and Sudafed,” a New York Times Editorial

“Potheads and Sudafed,” a NY Times editorial that ran yesterday, caught the attention (and raised the ire) of About.com’s headache page guide, Teri Robert. The article addresses issues raised by the FDA’s denial of medicinal marjiuana’s efficacy. Columnist John Tierney writes of the conundrum:

Officially, the D.E.A. says it wants patients to get the best medicine. But look at what it’s done to scientists trying to study medical marijuana. They’ve gotten approval for their experiments from the F.D.A., but they can’t get the high-quality marijuana they need because the D.E.A. won’t allow it to be grown. The F.D.A. actually wants to know if the drug works, but the D.E.A. is following the just-say-know-nothing strategy: as long as researchers can’t study marijuana, they can’t come up with evidence that it’s effective.

And as long as there’s no conclusive evidence that medical marijuana works, the D.E.A. and its allies on Capitol Hill can go on blindly fighting it. Representative Mark Souder, the Indiana Republican who’s the most rabid drug warrior in Congress, has been pressuring the F.D.A. to crack down on medical marijuana. Last week the agency finally relented: in return for not having to start busting anyone, it issued a statement stressing the potential dangers and lack of extensive clinical trials establishing medical marijuana’s effectiveness.

For more information about the DEA’s stance, see this post.

FYI: The article is only available on the Times site if you have a paid subscription, but you can probably use your public library card to read it in a full-text newspaper database online. (The database I used is called ProQuest and I accessed it trhough the magazine and newspaper section of the library’s databases. These specific details are only applicable through my library, of course, but I hope they help you navigate your library’s website.)

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DEA’s Stance on Pain Explained

Anyone with pain that requires opioid treatment must read this article on the DEA’s stance on painkillers. In fact, I think everyone who lives in the US should read the article.

Entitled “Treating Doctors as Drug Dealers: The Drug Enforcement Administration’s War on Prescription Painkillers,” this 35-page journal article overflows with illustrative information. Print it out and grab your highlighter. The time investment is well worthwhile.

Here’s the abstract:

Since 2001, the federal government has accelerated its pursuit of physicians it alleges are contributing to an increase of prescription-drug addiction. These highly publicized indictments and prosecutions have frightened many physicians out of the field of pain management, exacerbating an already serious health crisis—the widespread undertreatment of severe chronic pain.

[via Kevin, MD]

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Sunday’s 60 Minutes: Pain & Desperation

Richard Paey, a chronic pain patient who is serving 25 years in prison for his frequent refills of pain meds will be interviewed on Sunday’s 60 Minutes. He was charged with prescription forgery, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and drug trafficking.

Ironically, the same judicial system that prosecuted Paey is now supplying him with more pain medication than he took before his prison term.

The show airs at 7 p.m. EST on Sunday, January 29.