For Immediate Release
Contact: Siobhan Reynolds
January 16, 2004
(212) 873-5848

Pain Relief Network Joins National Physician and Patient Advocacy Groups in Denouncing Florida's Hearings On Pain Drugs.

Florida's "War On Drugs" Turning Into War On Doctors and Patients

NEW YORK, NY-In response to a combined state and Federal month-long series of hearings, purportedly aimed at curbing abuse of prescription drugs, Pain Relief Network is calling for a moratorium on government measures attacking legitimate pain care. Citing the virtual collapse of pain care throughout the state of Florida, Pain Relief Network's Executive Director Siobhan Reynolds is vowing to hold tough-talking legislators responsible for actions that hurt and kill the most vulnerable citizens of Florida.

"In an effort to appear tough on drug abuse and diversion, Florida's elected representatives are attacking patients in pain. Rush Limbaugh is a wealthy man and has access to high-powered attorneys to fight for his medical privacy. But who is standing up for the average Floridian in pain?"

Pain Relief Network joins The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, the American Pain Institute, and the National Pain Patients Coalition in opposing government intrusion into medical privacy that will only further chill legitimate pain management, putting even more patients in pain at risk for suicide.

"Patients in the worst pain, those with the highest dose requirements, those are the people victimized by this kind of legislation. With prosecutors and Federal agents eager to score points in their War On Drugs, Americans in severe pain raise every kind of alarm on law enforcement's radar screen. Doctors already turn them away in droves. Sick people have simply got to be excluded from the list of potential drug war targets. Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs only ensure that patients in pain wont get care."

The facts: -Prescription Monitoring Programs are not effective. They do not reduce substance abuse. Illicit prescription drugs on the streets come primarily from importation and theft. Doctors offices are not the source. Evidence: Kentucky has the "gold standard" Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and their rate of abuse of prescription pharmaceuticals is among the highest in the country.

-- Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs are inaccurate. They misidentify legitimate patients who are simply struggling to survive, labeling them "doctor shoppers." The system cannot differentiate. With 50 to 70 million Americans unable to access appropriate care, the mistake is foreseeable, inevitable, and devastating.

-- Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs have a chilling effect on legitimate pain management. Anyone who thinks otherwise is ignoring all available evidence. Evidence: David Joranson's studies at the University of Wisconsin Pain and Policy Studies Center show that doctors prescribe less opioids, even when opioid drugs are indicated, if they know the government is watching them. If Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs actually worked to curb drug abuse, perhaps one could argue that they had some merit. But since they don't work, there is no value to offset this unspeakable cost.

-Illicit prescription drugs are now readily available through the Internet and through importation from Mexico and other countries, utterly undermining law enforcement's rationale for its focus on medical practice as a source for diverted prescription drugs. Absent evidence that medical practice is a substantial source for illicit prescription drugs, policy makers have no justification for destroying patient privacy and worsening what is an already appalling and disgraceful situation facing Americans in pain.

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