Some Pain Sufferers Struggle to Get Medicine as States Enact Opioid Restrictions

As a growing number of states enact restrictions designed to clamp down on prescription drug abuse, some pain sufferers say they are not able to get the opioids they need, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The issue has pitted drug enforcement and public health officials against some doctors and their patients who are legitimately prescribed pain medicine, according to the article.

Some doctors have stopped writing prescriptions for opioids in reaction to state laws that make physicians criminally liable for writing prescriptions for painkillers that lead to overdoses. In some states, regulations of pain clinics have forced “pill mills” to close, leaving people who need pain medication with fewer prescribers. Pain patients seeking medication call their search for medication “the pharmacy crawl,” the newspaper notes.

Some pharmacies in Florida have stopped carrying opioids, or can’t obtain them from wholesalers, after the Drug Enforcement Administration closed part of a Walgreen’s distribution center earlier this month because the agency said some painkillers were ending up on the black market.

Pain clinics in Texas that write more than half their prescriptions for painkillers must register with the state’s medical board. After that requirement was enacted two years ago, some pain clinic operators unsuccessfully tried to get around the law by marketing themselves as diet centers or wellness clinics. Now, some of these clinics are demanding that customers bring people with them to buy other kinds of medications, to help keep the facilities from rising above the 50 percent threshold for reporting painkiller prescriptions.

This week, the National Alliance for Model Drug Laws, a nonprofit that helps states create laws to prevent prescription drug abuse, is meeting to talk about how to balance the fight against improper opioid prescribing, with maintaining patients’ access to needed pain medication.

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    Lynette Shier

    October 16, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    I was hit by a drunk driver in a van, while I was on the back of a motorcycle in 1986. I lost my left leg and the rest of the leg is deformed, my pelvis was split basically in half, my left arm was broken about an inch below my shoulder, and my left hand crushed. I have had numerous surgeries, including the chipping of bone out of my lower backside and placed into my leg to “stimulate growth”. Plus over the years of walking funny on a prosthetic leg, I have now scoliosis and nerve root damage and disc rupture/degeneration. These things only hurt worse and worse as the years go by. It is unbelievable pain, even with pain medicine, but with the right strong medicine, I can almost feel a quality to life. But it is nearly impossible to get any doctor to help me, and even if they do, insurance won’t pay. All I am asking for is a quality of life that is livable. All these laws and regulations make it hard to be treated like a human being who really needs pain relief. Instead, I am looked at as a drug addict. This is just horrible. Maybe people in pain would not overdose if they had a strong enough medicine to take away thier pain. Punish those who abuse, embrace those who desperately need it.

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    Keith Sackett

    October 10, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    I am 56 years old , just experienced ahorrible truck accident: 2 bbroken legs one has steel rod installed left hip replaced, 6 broken ribs,puntured left lung, two broken collar bones plus other injuries.Spent 6 months in nursing home to rehab and learn to walk again,will allways need pain meds. in order to have any type life.It appeaers insurance and dea have graduated with medicial degrees must go through them to get meds, Do we live in a third world country or are we just basiclly commmunist. My plans are to leave this area for a more advanced and compassionate enviroment where ones needs are not judged by lobbist corps, and war dependent economy

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