In this editorial by Dr. Lynn Webster in the Orlando Sentinel, he points out that the DEA’s interference in medical practice is not appropriate.
As reported by WESH-Channel 2, Patsos, who has stage-IV cancer, was unable to fill a prescription from her physician for much-needed pain relief, even after visiting several pharmacies. Pharmacists interviewed for the story cited pressure from the Drug Enforcement Administration to crack down on certain pain killers.
When a person suffering from the effects of cancer is denied medicines she needs to cope with a life in pain, we had better stop and ask why this is happening.
The report clearly demonstrates how our drug-enforcement policy is like a ship adrift in a sea of rising tensions, lack of focus and strong interests that, unfortunately, have collided. Many of the policy choices we have made as a society have unintended consequences that harm cancer patients like Patsos and countless others who suffer from chronic pain
First, physicians cannot surrender management of the health-care-delivery system to those who write and enforce the law. It must be done by those who practice and research medicine.
the DEA is creating a paralyzing sense of fear: physicians and pharmacies don’t want to run afoul of the DEA, so they withdraw when they should be speaking out.
There is much we can do, like examining our policy on opioids, which has come to resemble a patchwork quilt. On one hand, opioids are branded as “too addictive” to be tolerated, but on the other, they are accepted as the preferred pain killers for low-income patients.
opioids that are safely prescribed and monitored by a trained medical professional must not be eliminated as a treatment option, particularly for patients like Patsos.
Most insurance companies cover the cost of prescription drugs for pain. But researchers tell us that comprehensive, interdisciplinary treatment is the best approach… …most patients are denied this treatment because of lack of coverage from insurance companies and prohibitive co-pay costs.
The DEA can continue to enforce policies that prevent overuse and overdoses. But it must not interfere in the appropriate relationship between physician and patient.