Living with Pain: Is the War on Pain Patients a Human Rights Violation?

Living with Pain: Is the War on Pain Patients a Human Rights Violation?

When we read about human rights violations, we usually think of Russia, China or third world countries. We rarely think of the United States. Yet here in the U.S. we are involved in a war on chronic pain patients that is especially egregious in Washington state and Florida.

This war on pain patients is waged by the Drug Enforcement Administration, federal and state prosecutors, politicians and government agencies. Their efforts are bolstered by special interest groups, which have joined with legislators in their unbalanced efforts to reduce the amounts of available opioid analgesics and to limit the number of people who have access to these powerful pain relievers.
The rationale for this war is that over the past decade there has been quite an increase in opioid analgesic prescribing, which authorities blame for the growing problem of diversion, addiction, accidental overdose and death. The thinking is that if prescriptions are limited, then the associated problems with these medicines will be ameliorated.

The special interest groups point to a few research reports indicating that a large portion of patients taking these medicines become addicted. But the available research on this is spotty and not yet well developed to make any conclusions.

Since the passage of legislation in Washington, pain patients have been dropped by their physicians and denied opioid prescriptions by cowed pharmacies worried about being closed by the DEA. Physicians who previously treated people with intractable pain are turning away patients as they fear scrutiny and the possible loss of their licenses to practice.

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