Drug Control vs. Pain Control

A crackdown on opioid prescriptions will hurt patients.

Jacob Sullum
Reason Magazine

Last week, unveiling a plan to curtail “diversion” of opioid painkillers, Obama administration officials said they aim to “strike a balance between our desire to minimize abuse of prescription drugs and the need to ensure access for their legitimate use.” This balance will never be achieved because the two goals are fundamentally irreconcilable.

Since pain cannot be verified objectively, there is only so much a conscientious doctor can do to make sure a patient is not a malingerer, an addict, or a drug dealer. At a certain point, he has to choose between trusting his patients and helping the government enforce its arbitrary dictates regarding psychoactive chemicals. If he sides with his patients, he risks his license, his livelihood, and his liberty. If he sides with the government, it is inevitable that some patients will suffer needlessly.

Doctors are less inclined to prescribe opioids, even to legitimate patients in horrible pain, when they worry that regulators, police, and federal drug agents are looking over their shoulders, ready to second-guess every decision and transform honest mistakes or medical disagreements into felonies. Every additional layer of scrutiny only compounds the drug war’s chilling effect on pain treatment.

The article continues at Reason Magazine.

Related:  Hard on Drug Execs, Soft on Dictators, at The American Spectator

I was in Israel for two weeks hearing nothing but how the Obama administration is tougher (in action and language) on Israel than it has been on the Muslim Brotherhood (the White House seder included a Tahrir Square   salad) and Syria’s dictator Bashir al-Assad.

Now it turns out that Team O is tougher on drug company CEOs than it is on brutal dictators and a movement whose goal is wiping out Israel. The administration is applying a little used government approach to knee-capping executives it doesn’t like by threatening that HHS won’t allow Forest Laboratories to sell medications to Medicare, Medicaid, and other government health programs (which means every health plan under Obamacare) unless it tosses the company’s CEO, Howard Solomon. According to news accounts, the action is being taken because government lawyers claim that just fining the company billions isn’t stopping illegal behavior. But neither Mr. Solomon nor Forest has been found guilty of any wrongdoing. Here’s the WSJ account

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