Underdosing, Not Overdosing, Is the Real Problem
Recently I've read several articles about how Gil Kerlikowske, Obama's drug czar, is shifting the drug law enforcement emphasis from marijuana to methamphetamine and prescription drug abuse. While I'm all for legalizing marijuana for medical use and I fully support putting an end to the use of meth, increasing the monitoring of prescription drug usage concerns me. Of course I'm opposed to abusing prescription drugs, but in trying to reduce abuse, too often the government throws out the proverbial baby with the bath water.
Stopping the street sale of prescription drugs is one thing, but more stringent monitoring of physicians, pain clinics and even patients is quite another. Undertreatment of pain is already a huge problem. Making it riskier for doctors to prescribe needed pain medication will only worsen the problem.
Every time a celebrity dies from an overdose of prescription drugs, the media stirs up discussions about doctors who over-prescribe opioid medications. Do some doctors overdose their patients? Sure. But their number is very small - and often it seems they are connected with celebrities. Perhaps the money and prestige of treating a celebrity is too great a temptation. Whatever the reason, those doctors are certainly not typical. In my opinion, underdosing chronic pain patients is a far greater problem than overdosing them.
Check out this video I came across on Reason.tv - _When Cops Play Doctor - How the drug war punishes pain patients _. It's about five and a half minutes long, but it makes some very good points on this subject and is well worth watching.
Reason.tv: When Cops Play Doctor How the drug war punishes pain patients. (2009, September 22). Retrieved from http://reason.com/blog/show/136205.html
Drug Survey Release Thursday Raises Questions for New Drug Czar. (2009, September 9). eNews Park Forest, Retrieved from http://www.enewspf.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10001:drug-survey-release-thursday-raises-questions-for-new-drug-czar&catid=88888972:analysis&Itemid=88889782