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News of the Day ... in Perspective


DEA guidelines triple patient misery and costs

Recently proposed DEA guidelines require chronic pain patients to be seen monthly, even if doctors feel that quarterly visits are appropriate, to get a 30-day supply of medication. Until recently, physicians had been writing up to three prescriptions during a visit, with the date that the prescription was written and a future fill date.

Patients may face long drives to see the doctor three times as often, and pay for three times as many visits. Insurance carriers, especially Medicare and Medicaid are expected to see a surge in claims as well.

Rex Healthcare in Raleigh, NC, is having to book an additional 300 patient visits per month since pharmacies have been refusing to fill future-dated prescriptions.

“The impact is immense,” stated pain specialist Sunil Dogra of UNC-Chapel Hill.

A DEA spokeswoman declined to answer questions about the process and said she did not know when a final policy decision would be made (News Observer 4/26/05).

Additional information:

“The Myth of Available Pain Care” by Frank B. Fisher, M.D., Freeman, April 2005 (see www.fee.org articles usually available on line eventually).

Federal Register notice of 1/18/05 and AAPS comments.

DEA policy. www.aapsonline.org/painman/pm-dea.htm

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