News of the Day ... in Perspective12/29/2003
War against pain doctors escalating
In the Dec. 29 Washington Post, Marc Kaufman writes that “Worried Pain Doctors Decry Prosecutions.”
DEA statistics show that the agency has opened 406 cases of OxyContin trafficking cases since 1999 and has made 464 arrests. Investigations and prosecutions of physicians soared in the 1990s, and the severity of the charges has increased steadily. No proof of criminal intent is needed to bring charges.
All the DEA has to prove is that the doctor is “operating outside the course of legitimate medical practice,” according to Elizabeth Willis, chief of drug operations for the DEA Office of Diversion Control. This is a fluid and subjective standard.
As a result of this activity, “the only people being kept from using drugs in our society are those legally entitled to use them, our sick people,” stated Siobhan Reynolds, founder of the Pain Relief Network.
Few medical societies have challenged the prosecutions because of doctors’ fears of being targeted. AAPS is the exception.