Paging Dr. Feelgood…

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L.A. laser surgeon Jules Mark Lusman had his medical license revoked and may face some jail time, according to a Los Angeles Times article today, all for overprescribing prescription narcotics to such direly needy Hollywood figures as Courtney Love and Winona Ryder. In a bit of wry medical wit, the spokeswomen for the Medical Board of California says that in order to get his license back, to quote the Times article, "Lusman would have to prove to the state that his problem is 'cured.'"

Lusman didn't have a "problem"—his patients had desires, and a system of guild-building and paternalistic laws placed him in a unique position to satisfy those desires. What started as an advantage for Lusman—his role in the medical monopoly that stands between people and desired substances—only became a problem with the state board's intervention. I only hope more doctors start to balance the financial advantages they get from prescription drug laws with the legal dangers they present. The real problem that needs curing here are absurd and onerous prescription drug laws that thrust unnecessary expenses and legal danger between citizens and the medicines they want.

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  1. You bring up an interesting topic for debate here, Brian. For all the hubbub there has been in this country about monopolies – from Standard Oil all the way through AT&T and Microsoft – I’ve never once heard anyone challenge the government-imposed monopoly that the American Medical Association has on medical services. In a sense, we already have Socialized medicine in this country. I know that there is value in knowing that the doctor that is treating me has passed muster with the AMA, but I think there is room for debate about allowing non-AMA doctors to practice, with the understanding that the patient always has the right to know that the doctor he/she is getting treatment from is not certified by the AMA.

  2. I don’t know what the AMA has to do with it. Physicians are licensed by the States in which they practice. Additionaly they have to get a piece of paper from the Federal Government allowing them to prescribe narcotics. They can also be certified by any one of a variety of specialty Boards. In a truly free society individuals should be able to purchase whatever medication they want. Alcohol is readily available and there are no problems from that. Right?

  3. I suppose I should clarify – it’s not the AMA itself that is the problem, it is the licensing requirements of States, the Federal Government, and the specialty Boards you mentioned that are problematic. The AMA, however, is the primary lobbyist for all of these restrictions on who can legally practice medicine.

  4. Medical licensure dates from the early sixteenth century in England when The Royal College of Physicians was founded”to reinforce and advance ethical standards in medicine, to exclude impostors from practice, and to create an organisation for suitably qualified physicians.” The AMA wasn’t founded until the mid nineteenth century. The whole issue of licensure, who is qualified, who is an imposter, and who decides is pretty complicated. Charlie Hall

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