Thursday, June 10, 2010

Trapped in Arizona

Drug reform take many forms, prescription drug abuse, the under-treatment of pain, medical marijuana, and patients rights are but a few.

Under-treatment of Pain
It's no secret pain is under treated in America. We have 65,000,000 Americans suffering chronic pain, and only 6000 pain specialists. Family practitioners should be the ones who treat pain, but because of fear of regulatory agencies and the DEA, most simply refuse to treat their patients in pain.

The problem is the few doctors who are willing to treat pain end up with hundreds of pain patients. If a pain patients is caught selling prescription drugs, many times this starts an investigation into the doctor. I don't understand this, because the doctor has no control over what a patient does once they leave the doctors office. Many times a doctor who is accused of over prescribing or other violations, is later cleared of some or all of the charges.

This is what happened to my first pain doctor, Dr William Hurwitz, any doctor considering the treatment of pain should read this, Dr Hurwitz practiced medicine in good faith, a doctor is not a mind reader, and is not responsible for the actions of their patients. Yet the federal prosecutor called him a drug kingpin.

Trapped in Arizona
Mohave County has high rate of drug use, we all know that. Being a former drug cop I understand why pain specialists require patients to sign pain contracts. Pain contracts are designed to protect the doctor by setting rules the patient must abide by or be dropped as a patient. The standard pain contract says the patient will only get pain medication from one doctor, only use one pharmacy, take random drug tests, can have their pills counted at any time to make sure they are taking the prescribed medication and not selling it on the street.

Today pain contracts necessary to protect the doctor, or in this case the physicians assistant from DEA and other regulatory agencies. The problem with pain contracts is that they protect the doctor, but apparently not the patient.

I’ve had a year long relationship with my pain doctor, have always done the required tests and kept my appointments. So when told the physicians assistant I was going to visit grand kids in Oregon and Montana this summer, and I needed him to write 90 days of pain medication rather than the normal 30 days.

The physicians assistant went into the office to talk to someone, then returned and told me that I was free to try to find other doctors as I traveled, and that I wouldn't be dropped as a patient for violation the pain contract I signed.

I was baffled that they were unwilling to follow the 2007 DEA rule change allowing physicians to write three separate prescriptions with staggered fill dates to give patients the equivalent of a 90-day prescription for schedule II controlled substances.

I ask the physicians assistant to talk to the doctor and see if we can work something out. If not, I've already spoke to my state representative and she is willing to look into the problem.

This policy reversal by the DEA eliminated the burden previously imposed on patients with cancer or chronic pain who were forced to visit their physician every month for new pain medicine prescriptions when there was no medical necessity to do so.Prior to this rule change pain patients were literally trapped by only 30 days of medication.

All legitimate patients with pain should continue to work for a pain patients bill of rights, and debate our states policies on the crises of prescription drug abuse and under-treated pain. Our state medical board should be committed to safe and effective treatment of pain, the rights of pain patients, and an effective policy on prescription drug abuse.


  1. Please read your post backwards for flow and pronunciation.

    Keep up the good work none the less.

  2. The only person who has either the right or the responsibility to decide how much pain I'm in or how to treat it is me. Any government "drug policy" that gives that right or responsibility to lawmakers and law enforcers is immoral, inhumane and unconstitutional.

    MY body. MY life. MY choice. Make it legal and leave me the hell alone.


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