Let Them Take Aspirin


In a small victory for patients, an FDA advisory panel has rejected a proposal from drug warriors to impose new restrictions on access to the time-release painkiller OxyContin. The Drug Enforcement Administration and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) wanted the FDA to stop family practitioners from prescribing the drug and limit its use to severe pain (rather than moderate to severe). The New York Times reports:

The panel voted 13 to 5 against restricting OxyContin's use to patients in severe pain. "I'm uncomfortable with people with moderate pain having to beg for access to these drugs," said Dr. Steven Shafer, an anesthesiologist from North Carolina. "And I'm concerned that taking moderate off would be an invitation to prosecution by the D.E.A."

Nearly all panel members spoke against restrictions that would stop family doctors from prescribing the drugs. Panel members noted that patients in rural areas who do not have access to specialists would effectively be denied the medicine if the power to prescribe the pills was limited to specialists.

This episode is further proof that the DEA is either lying or deluded when it claims that anti-diversion efforts are perfectly consistent with adequate pain treatment.