The insane crackdown on pain medication

If you have chronic, agonizing pain, your troubles are about to get worse. New state and federal regulations will make it nearly impossible to get the prescription painkillers you need.

Grandstanding politicians are imposing one-size-fits-all limits on how much medication patients can receive and for how long.

Pols claim they’re combating the opioid crisis, but these draconian limits will harm millions with chronic pain and do zip to curb overdose deaths. Before the 1990s, pain was frequently under-treated, and patients suffered horribly. Since then, doctors have been trained to routinely ask patients about their pain and treat it.

Now, politicians are undoing that progress. Patients will be forced to tough it out again.

Seniors on Medicare get harmed the most. New Medicare regulations will refuse to pay for high-dose, long-term prescriptions for chronic-pain sufferers starting Jan. 1, 2019, with only a few exceptions, such as cancer patients.

Never mind that this age group is the least likely to overdose. And never mind that some 1.6 million seniors on Medicare Part D will be affected. Facts be damned.

Politicians parrot a false narrative that millions of people are becoming drug addicts because of prescriptions their doctor gave them for pain.

Not true. Emergency-room records reveal that very few overdose victims were being treated by a doctor for chronic pain, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association–Internal Medicine. That’s not how they got hooked.

True, there are doctors who unscrupulously operate pill mills, dispensing prescriptions to anyone who asks, but those bad apples are not causing the tragic surge in overdose deaths. Only about 1 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain become addicted — according to a systematic survey of peer-reviewed medical studies. Even 1 percent is too much, but it doesn’t justify harming millions of patients who need pain relief.

Politicians should be battling dealers, not doctors. Illegal drugs cause nearly all overdose deaths, not drugs patients get from their doctor. Fentanyl (a man-made heroin-like drug), heroin and cocaine play the biggest roles in overdose deaths in New York City, according to the city’s health data. Fewer than one in five overdose victims even had a prescription drug in their system, and it was virtually never the only drug.

Yet Mayor Bill de Blasio wrongly blames the city’s overdose death toll on prescription painkillers.

Nationwide also, fentanyl poses the biggest threat. Overdose deaths from fentanyl and other manmade street drugs soared 100 percent in one year, while overdoses linked to prescription opioids hardly increased or in many areas declined.

Patient advocates are alarmed at the new laws and regulations limiting what their doctors can prescribe. Nearly half the states, including New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, have acted. Though many limit only prescriptions for short-term pain relief, not chronic pain, they’re having a chilling impact. Doctors fear legal trouble, and are cutting off patients. Some of these turned-away patients, like 52-year-old bed-ridden Debra Bales, who had taken painkillers for years, resort to suicide in desperation.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich boasts that his state will erect new hurdles before a doctor can prescribe an opioid painkiller. Doesn’t Kasich know that prescription-opioid overdoses are at a six-year low in his state, while deaths from heroin and other illicit drugs are soaring? Target the real problem, governor.

Good advice for de Blasio, the ultimate grandstander. He’s brandishing a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies and boasts millions in new spending on the opioid crisis, but refuses to put any of that money into law enforcement.

That’s a mistake. The facts behind overdose deaths show the city should be clamping down on the pushing and shooting up going on in plain sight in parks and public places. Nationwide, pols should be going after dealers instead of seniors and other chronic-pain sufferers who use, but do not abuse, meds.

Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.

7 Responses

  1. how do we unite and file the suit,Michael?I will be 1st to sign up!!

  2. Dear Jesus,help us.I propose intense,united prayer chains to rid the country of this witch hunt.I have called attys.,denators,even the white house,,all to no avail.This is more important to them than school shootings.Unbelievable.

  3. Nanny State BS!

  4. The reason you don’t or won’t get a high or euphoria is because your in pain, I spoke to my Doctor about it and that’s what he told me

  5. To accuse of of being an addict when all we have in common are some of the same meds. We do them differently, we have to make our meds last 30 days, I do not get a euphoria from taking thm. So how can I be seen as an accict? I do not buy street drugs ( I wouldn’t have the strach to buy them). Even if I did I would not take the risk of jeopardizing the relationship I have w/ my Dr.. I do my best to do things correctly, yet the MORE THEY CUT THE MORE DIFFICULT THAT BECOMES! I am getting to the point that, I’m not sure what I will do next.
    As always Thank you Steve

  6. As my Doctor told me you can die from withdrawl some must be done about this and quickly or it will most definitely open up a major can of worms. I believe the chronic pain suffers need to file a class action law suit against state and federal legislators under the 8th amendment under cruel and unusual punishment.

    • Oh there are over 25 different laws they are breaking,,from constitutional law,to civil rights laws,to laws against humane treatment,to international laws,,,About 25 in total,,,but what do we do,,when the major civil rights group,,,ACLU,, is bought off by politicians or addiction p[eople,,and refuses to help,,or the typical class action attorney’s are only interested in going after pharma,,Unless we have the private money’s,,,we can’t find a attorney sooo far,,,maryw

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