Once Again, Pain Patients Must Suffer to Save Addicts From Themselves

The Food and Drug Administration, which for years has opposed new restrictions on prescription painkillers containing hydrocodone as an unacceptable burden on patients, has changed its mind. Assuming the Department of Health and Human Services approves this new position, which comports with what the Drug Enforcement Administration has long recommended, hydrocodone will be moved from Schedule III to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act, which will make the medications harder to get, even for people suffering from severe chronic pain. Fewer practitioners will be allowed to prescribe hydrocodone, and prescriptions will last three months at most rather than six months, requiring more frequent doctor visits. Even for short-term use (after an injury or dental procedures, for example), doctors will not be allowed to call prescriptions in to pharmacies; patients will have to physically carry a written prescription to the drugstore (and woe to those who lose that magical piece of paper). Why did the FDA suddenly decide that it's OK to erect these arbitrary obstacles between patients and the drugs they need to make their pain bearable? Here is how The New York Times explains it:

[Janet] Woodcock [director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research] said that F.D.A. officials were aware that changing the prescribing rules would affect patients. She said, however, that the impact on public health caused by the abuse of the drugs as well as their medical use had reached a tipping point....

"These are very difficult tradeoffs that our society has to make," said Dr. Woodcock. "The reason we approve these drugs is for people in pain. But we can't ignore the epidemic on the other side."

Why do "we as a society" have to make these "tradeoffs" at all? Only because the government insists on getting between people and the drugs they want. The upshot is that bureaucrats like Woodcock act as if it is morally acceptable to magnify the suffering of people who use hydrocodone to treat pain because other people use the drug for nonmedical purposes and sometimes die as a result of their own recklessness. This sort of callous calculus makes sense only to a collectivist. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Bean Counter||

    Because we live only to bolster the ego of the asswipes.

  • DWC||

    Not to mention most narcotic pain killers are laces with the far more toxic acetominophen, specifically put there to harm or kill you if you feel inclined to take more than you "should" take. Just exactly in the way they laced alcohol with deadly poisons in order to kill people who had the gall to imbibe when it was forbidden. Fuck these asshole. I wish death on the smug, self righteous assholes responsible for this kind of thing.

  • pan fried wylie||

    denatured painkillers, to avoid the upcoming painkiller taxes that are part of the ACA.

  • Robert||

    Supposedly the acetaminophen is in there to give a synergistic effect with the opiate. In cases where a non-therapeutic agent is to be added to a drug to qualify the combination for a less restrictive control schedule, the rules say it has to not seriously increase its toxicity, so according to the rules, the acetaminophen is supposed to do the patient some good that the opiate would not do alone.

    Well, that's what the rules say, anyway.

  • ||

    This sort of callous calculus makes sense only to a collectivist.

    Correct, but also don't forget that the people who go and work for these agencies are almost assuredly sadists as well. As I said in an earlier thread today, if you create positions of authority over people, the worst possible people will gravitate to those positions, eventually almost completely taking over any such organization. So if you create positions where the people who occupy them have the power to make drug users suffer or restrict their access, even at the expense of people in pain, who is going to gravitate to those positions? Sadists who hate drugs and drug users. And of course, there is most likely going to be some overlap in those people's hatred of drugs and drug users and the fact that people taking the drugs legally are still, at the end of the day, drug users. So making things harder for people in pain really doesn't faze them; not in comparison to how much they like trying to hurt illegal drug users even more.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Excellent point.

  • Hugh Akston||

    "These are very difficult tradeoffs that our society has to make," said Dr. Woodcock.

    I don't recall getting the email asking for my input.

  • Almanian!||

    The NSA [redacted] it. For your protection, Hugh.

    YOU'RE WELCOME

  • Robert||

    You will be asked (albeit not individually) to comment when notice is given that this is proposed as a rule. Your comment may even get published or summarized in the Federal Register.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    As much as I wouldn't wish it, it would be valuable if all of these douchebags suffered chronic pain or had someone close to them suffer chronic pain. The problem with that scenario is that these decision makers have the pull to get around the regulations they're foisting on us the expendables.

  • Almanian!||

    I will, do, and have wished it. Fuck these assholes.

    I could barely WALK from back pain for 6 months - finally fixed it with a couple injections, but not before we tried evvvvvvvverything else. Including living on oxy for about 2 months. It was the only way I could function.

    So - fuck these motherfuckers. The revolution needs to happen sooner rather than later...

  • Cyto||

    Screw 'em in the ear. I had gall bladder surgery a year and a half ago and the pain was really bad. I summoned the anesthesiologist and the surgeon to my bed and they told me that 2 years prior they would have prescribed a morphine drip, but because of all of the pill-mill hysteria in florida they were not allowed to prescribe what they felt was the appropriate amount of pain medicine.

    It was only 48 hours of being undermedicated, so it isn't like it was life-altering. Of course, you'd go to jail if you intentionally caused one of those bureaucrats 48 hours of pain and suffering. I can only imagine what chronic pain sufferers go through.

    I suppose not enough people know someone who has gone through the painful process of dying from cancer - otherwise we wouldn't put up with these idiots. Worries over addiction should be a distant second to immediate pain issues - and those worries should be addressed by the patient and his healthcare providers, not by some idiot in Washington DC.

  • JimmyJohn||

    Spot on! Currently in FL Doctors are being hounded, like Colombian drug lords. The press whips up hysteria, and judges allow federal prosecutors to suppress exculpatory evidence. Few people cry for the mistreated doctors, but the whole public suffers.

  • Bean Counter||

    Actually, I WOULD wish it. Hung by their own petard, as it were. Of course, if they got so sick they would need these painkillers, they would retire on a 75% disability and use their connections to get around the restrictions.
    I quit expecting the universe to be fair when I turned 9 years old and figured out that "fair" is a word without any objective meaning... I was a weird little kid. Haven't improved much since.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Go suck a [wood]cock.

  • Almanian!||

    Also, I like Rush Limbaugh. He's funny. No, I do not take his thoughts and bloviating terribly seriously. But I can get his show via the interweb at work, and he's a funny guy. It's entertaining.

    With that said, nice alt text...:)

  • Bean Counter||

    I used to listen to him until he started taking himself seriously. Also, he stopped the fake ads and condom jokes, so I just kind of got bored with him.

  • Almanian!||

    I miss the caller abortions.

  • Loki||

    he stopped the fake ads and condom jokes

    Couldn't find a link to an actual audio sample, but the Weemsco Tuna commercial was one of the funnier ones.

    “The Tuna doesn’t taste as good as it used to. Weemsco Tuna is chock full of dolphins as all the other tuna companies have quit using them leaving more for us. Weemsco tuna has that delicious flavor you grew up with. Remember, Weemsco Tuna for the great dolphin flavor you are used to!”

  • gaoxiaen||

    The only time that I enjoyed his show was the day after Clinton got reelected. Fuck that fat-assed hypocrite.

  • Sigivald||

    She said, however, that the impact on public health caused by the abuse of the drugs as well as their medical use had reached a tipping point....

    Yeah, because they'll stop being junkies if all they can get is delicious black-market heroin rather than oxycodone.

    That'll totally work.

  • Cyto||

    I've tried pushing that argument to it's logical conclusion with some state-loving friends (who are painfully unaware of their fealty to the state). I've also tried the extreme legalization argument - using examples of Johnson and Johnson brand heroine from Walgreen's and buying a pack of Acapulco Gold joints from Walmart. With all of the quality control and product liability that goes with mass-marketed products.

    They can't even hear the argument. They get so riled up by the mere thought of someone buying cocaine breakfast tea (like they have in Peru) that they completely shut down intellectually.

    I got the same response on the gun control argument. They were married to the idea that mass shootings were out of control and police were being killed by the hundreds. I couldn't even get them to look at the numbers from the FBI website on my phone - they refused to challenge what the already "knew".

    Very disheartening.

  • Loki||

    [Janet] Woodcock [director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research] said that F.D.A. officials were aware that changing the prescribing rules would affect patients. She said, however...

    ...FUCK 'EM!

  • Bean Counter||

    Succinct, to the point. Thread Winner!!

  • Robert||

    This will lead to the near-death of these combination drugs, as doctors will prescribe plain oxycodone, inasmuch as it will be subject to the same federal controls as the combinations if this change goes thru. The knock on the combinations always was the aspirin or acetaminophen they contain. So this move probably will lead to less OD toxicity. Paradoxically, it may even lead to better pain control, inasmuch as people will have to use some narcotic for it, and they'll probably get better ones.

  • DWC||

    I would not bet on it.

  • JimmyJohn||

    The DEA has lost the war on marijuana. It now looks to keep it's budget by making all other drugs more restrictive. The small percentage of those addicted are now used to justify running over the majority of people who use the medicines responsibly. We are now in a police state environment wherein the DEA acts like secret police ( vis-a-vis parallel construction and the like), with the sensationalist press exaggerating prescription drug abuse.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement