How the War on Rx-Drugs Victimizes Pain Patients

How the War on Rx-Drugs Victimizes Pain Patients

In a battle against prescription drug abuse and diversion, primarily involving opioid pain relievers, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has launched attacks on wholesalers and pharmacies within the legitimate supply chain. Questions are being raised about the foresight of such tactics, as healthcare providers are becoming leery of prescribing and severe shortages of these vital analgesics loom over the horizon. In the end, patients with pain may become collateral damage in this “War on Rx-Drugs.”

According to a recent report from Reuters news service [“U.S. War on Drugs Moves to Pharmacy from Jungle”; June 16, 2012, here], in response to ever-increasing concerns about the diversion of prescription pain relievers to illegitimate use, the DEA has beefed up its efforts at deterrence and is deploying many of the tactics it uses to combat illegal drugs, such as wire taps, undercover operations, and informants.

Such efforts have helped it dismantle many “pill mills” — bogus pain clinics writing thousands of questionable prescriptions — as well as rogue Internet pharmacies. However, the agency is now applying the same tactics to prosecute the legitimate pharmaceutical supply chain, including wholesalers and pharmacies that must follow strict record-keeping and security rules to prevent drug diversion.

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