Enlightened? Compassionate? That Couldn't Have Been Us.

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The Drug War Chronicle notes that the Drug Enforcement Administration has removed from its Web site a pamphlet that gave doctors advice about how to prescribe narcotic painkillers. The set of FAQs, produced in collaboration with leading pain experts, was intended to reassure physicians who worry that using opioids to treat chronic pain might attract unwanted attention from the government. Although it was in some respects self-defeating, the pamphlet included several statements that contradicted official anti-drug propaganda and popular misconceptions. In particular, it emphasized that mere exposure to narcotics is not enough to produce addiction, cautioned that patients who seem like addicts may simply be suffering from unrelieved pain, and conceded that misconceptions about narcotic addiction can lead to undertreatment and erroneous enforcement actions. On the whole, it was a surprisingly enlightened document given that it had received the DEA's imprimatur.

Now the DEA, in an odd bit of revisionist history, says it didn't. "DEA wishes to emphasize that the document was not approved as an official statement of the agency and did not and does not have the force and effect of law," says a brief notice on the agency's Web site. "The document contained misstatements and has therefore been removed from the DEA web site."

Doctors are left to puzzle over exactly what those "misstatements" were, leaving them in greater uncertainty than they were before the pamphlet was published.

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  1. “The document contained misstatements and has therefore been removed from the DEA web site.”

    Oh, that’s funny. If that was the standard, there wouldn’t be very many government web pages left up.

    In fact, I would guess what they really mean is: “The document contained true statements and has therefore been removed from the DEA web site.”

  2. I’d imagine you’re right on, Pete.

  3. I finally got to talk to an actual doctor whose specialty is pain management and neurology. His kid and my kid are on the same soccer team.

    We had an interesting conversation about the DEA. He doesn’t fear the DEA he says because none of his patients are frauds and his practice is above board. Of course, as a libertarian I took that under advisement using the “conservative is a liberal who was recently mugged theory”. But he claimed that in 15 years of practice he has never been asked about anything, never been audited or questioned by DEA, and never had trouble. He waved the whole thing off with a comment something to the effect of “let ’em come, I’m doing nothing wrong”. I didn’t push it, either. Mainly because I’m very diplomatic and he had already launched into a monologue about how well-known and well-respected he is in our area. I didn’t tell him I never heard of him, either.

    Personally, I think he’s a regular ostrich. Even I’m afraid of the DEA and I’m not a druggie or a doctor.

  4. TWC, report him to the DEA anyways. Just a snitch or two is enough to bring down the good doctors name. He needs a good lesson in how the DEA goes after people based on some street junkies word.

  5. No, Mr. Wilson, you never saw us publish any such pamphlet.

  6. No, Mr. Wilson, you never saw us publish any such pamphlet.

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