Ease the DEA's grip on doctors, allowing chronic pain patients to get the medications we need.
This petition had 8,699 supporters
We are some of the many people who are fed-up with this negative climate caused by the DEA crackdown on doctors who are prescribing narcotic pain medicines. We need these medicines to carry on a normal life that these doctors, DEA officials, and other parties who have most likely never experienced chronic pain take for granted. Here are several actual examples of our stories:
Story #1 is a member of our group who recently had major back surgery. He is being weaned from pain meds after a week of being released from the hospital. According to most doctors the time frame after surgery is 4 to 6 weeks of a constant pain medicine regiment.
Story #2 is another fellow chronic pain sufferer. He had 2 spinal fusions-remaining in severe pain, and can’t get pain medicine because he has no insurance. He goes to the local county clinic, and they have their hands tied. They can only prescribe him one pain medicine because of regulations. This medicine does not work, and he can’t get anything stronger to help him feel better.
Story#3 is from another member who is 9 months post-op with a spinal fusion and is being told that 1/3 of fusions fail and that she is too young to be on medication long term so they want to wean her off of the already low dose she’s on. Her back is worse than before the surgery. But now she has to get off the medicine helping her to function because the doctor does not want to keep her on medication because of her age.
Story#4 is from a member who has Lupus, Psoriatic Arthritis, Osteoarthritis as well as RA. In addition they have scoliosis in their spine, spinal stenosis, and 3 herniated discs that are pressing on the nerve roots. Their doctor only gives them medication to "take the bite" out of the pain because the doctor feels her hands are tied by the govt. she can't really give them the muscle relaxant that works on their back. The one that is prescribed barely even works for the pain.
Story#5 is another member who can hardly get out of bed. She’s in pain and hurts from the time she wakes up in the morning, until she goes to bed at night. She can barely stand the pain she’s in to take a shower, and to go to store hurts her so bad. She gets 60 pills a month and it only knocks the edge off her pain. She does not understand why she is allowed to suffer, and can’t get anything else, or more meds if she needs them.
We have become casualties of this DEA crackdown on prescription pain medicines. We feel the DEA’s push is making doctors disregard their patients’ needs because the doctors are so afraid they will get in trouble, and lose their medical licenses. The DEA claims there has been no direct pressure put on doctors, and pharmacies to cause this crisis, however, if we look at some of the facts regarding actions taken by the DEA it’s clear why doctors, pharmacies, and drug supply companies are scared, and act on their own to further grow this issue.
In 2010, Attorney General Pam Bondi helped pass legislation banning doctors from dispensing narcotic medications out of their office. It was part of a statewide crackdown in Florida on rampant abuse. While prescription drug deaths have dropped, Bondi now says the crackdown may have gone too far. "Everyone means well, but sometimes the pendulum swings too far the other way" she said.
In February, 2015 the DEA responded to criticism about being blamed for putting pressure on pharmacies and doctors not to fill certain medicines. "I don't think the pendulum has swung," said Jeff Walsh, assistant special agent in charge of Central Florida. "It's tragic, but it's an issue between the patient and the pharmacist, not the DEA," said Walsh. Walsh said pharmacists are being dishonest when they blame the DEA.
“There have been no new regulations. There have been no rule changes. There have been no changes in the Controlled Substances Act,” (DEA spokesman Rusty Payne.)
That “chilling effect” stems from recent enforcement actions taken by the DEA against doctors, drug store chains and wholesale drug distributors. Cardinal Health, one of the nation’s largest wholesalers, was fined $34 million in 2012 after it failed to report suspicious orders for hydrocodone at a distribution facility in Lakeland, Florida. Shipments of controlled substances from that facility were suspended for two years. Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy have also been fined tens of millions of dollars by the DEA for violating rules and regulations for dispensing controlled substances. Soon after the fines were levied, Walgreens developed a “secret checklist” to screen patients with narcotic prescriptions, and told pharmacists not to fill prescriptions for narcotics or to call the doctor if anything appeared suspicious.
“If a pharmacy chooses not to fill a prescription for someone, that’s their decision. It’s not the DEA’s decision,” says Payne.
Here are a few items from the Walgreens checklist, and our concern with each of them, and how they are excessive: A lot of people today can’t afford insurance, and according to the checklist it’s a red flag paying cash. If you can't afford insurance, how else are you supposed to get the medication you need? Another thing the "secret checklist" says is a new patient is a red flag. When a store is out of medicine because suppliers have a large part in this issue and limit the availability of medications, a patient must travel and look at different pharmacies to find the medicine because 1 in 5 pharmacies will actually have it. Of course the patient will be new, and why should that be a red flag?
Next, If the prescription is written for the same medication and from the same doctor as the previous fill (new doctor is possible red flag). Patients have moved, changed insurance not taken by the old doctor, and so on. According to this checklist if you change doctors it’s a red flag. Next, If the patient and doctor listed on the prescription are within close geographical proximity to the drug store (far distances that cannot be explained are a red flag). When one of our members signed up for ObamaCare, they could not find a doctor within a 90 mile radius that was a spine specialist. They would be a red flag filling a script at the local pharmacy, after driving an hour and a half from their doctor’s?
Our position on this crisis is the more fines, and regulations cast forth by the DEA, the harder the medical system makes it for us. We as a group don't see how our debilitating conditions and need for these medications should be neglected because of the DEA's increase in fining these companies, scare tactics, and bullying. We are the patients these doctors, and companies are here to serve. For whatever reason doctors and pharmacies are scared, and not helping us, one thing is clear. We did nothing wrong and are real people, with real doctors, with real prescriptions, who have real pain. Please let this list of signatures serve as a small voice of the people. We are just a small number of people with an ever-growing common problem. We are in pain and the doctors, and pharmacies we see are not giving us what we need, relief. This is not right, and is making people who actually need these medicines suffer. We aren’t the experts on how to accomplish this, however it might be common sense to put in place something forbidding doctors, and pharmacies to deny a patient medications for no reason, or make it so hard to get. Perhaps instead of having only punishments for not reporting suspicious prescription circumstances, etc, or fining doctors for not following rules, put some focus on fining doctors for not treating a patient with legitimate medical needs, requiring a controlled substance.
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