Sample Letter To Congress Members - Pain Management
1. Personalize your letter. If you have an example from your practice, mention it briefly.
3. Please send a copy of your letter to AAPS at [email protected] or fax to 520.325.4230.
4. Use this letter as a sample letter to the editor when a news story runs about an arrest or prosecution.
5. Sign the American Pain Institute's Petition to Congress
The Honorable ___________
I am writing to bring your attention to a problem affecting many of my patients and physician colleagues.
Throughout the United States, physicians are being threatened, impoverished, delicensed, and imprisoned for prescribing in good faith with the intention of relieving pain. The "War on Drugs'' has come to mean a war on lawful drugs also-and against the doctors who prescribe them and the patients who take them.
Prosecutors make careers out of high-publicity cases involving the hot "drug du jour" such as OxyContin. But this war is causing enormous collateral damage and deaths from "friendly fire." Physicians have been drummed out of practice, sent to jail, and even been driven to suicide in the face of these 21st century witch hunts.
If this continues, not one doctor will be willing to prescribe the drugs that patients so desperately need. The real problem is not drugs, but drug misuse. But repeated and frequent abuse of prosecutorial discretion is compounding the problem.
Prosecutors charge doctors with murder when a patient dies as a result of overdosing on legally prescribed drugs, usually combined with alcohol or illegal drugs. Then they pile on dozens of unrelated counts, such as drug kingpin, fraud, and RICO charges. The physician is so frightened that he will usually plead guilty to lesser charges carrying hefty fines and some prison time to make the case "go away."
In other cases, drug-dependent patients may be arrested, then promised drugs if they will testify against a doctor or threatened with prosecution if they don't. Psychiatric patients may be threatened with involuntary confinement, addled geriatric patients coached to change stories. Prosecutors commonly use stalling tactics to bring defendants to their knees. They know the longer the accused goes without being able to earn a living while the legal fees mount, the better the chances are that the desperate target will make a bad deal just to bring the nightmare to an end.
I urge Congress to hold hearings to investigate ways to protect physicians against unwarranted prosecution, to protect patients' access to medications, and to encourage physicians to make chronic pain management available in their practices.