Patient Suicides Follow Suspension of Doctor's Medical License

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Frequent use has nearly taken the oomph out of the word "tragic," but I posit that there's no better one-word summary for this news:

Jeff Prince was working on a story about a group of patients who were helping their doctor try to regain his medical license. The doc specialized in treating chronic pain and was the only professional in the area willing to prescribe drugs like oxycodone, so when his license was suspended his patients went without meds. One such patient was David Noblett, who sustained severe back injuries in the Vietnam war that gave him decades of agony. As Prince was wrapping up the story, he called Noblett at home to let him know he was coming over to snap a cover photo. But when Prince arrived 30 minutes later, he found Noblett slumped in a chair, dead. The doctor tells the [Fort Worth Weekly] that four of his patients have committed suicide since his license was suspended.

For another good read on the under-reported effects of prescription drug regulation, check out Jacob Sullum's piece on Richard Paey.

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  1. Drug Warrior Spin:

    Junkies end their miserable lives when police take their pusher off streets.

  2. Fuck you drug warriors, fuck each and every one of you. Those people’s suicides are on your hands.

    Due to this morality thingee I was taught, I won’t wish chronic untreated pain on you. But sympathy will not be forthcoming if you ever find yourselves in such a situation.

    In closing, Fuck you, fuck every single one of you evil bastards!

  3. Of course, any politician in chronic pain (or their wives, natch) can get all the pills they need.

    It’s hilarious that McCain was hypocrite A#1 on the drug war front and then Obama goes and picks drug warrior extraordinaire A#1 Biden to even out the imbalance.

    Does McCain take pain pills for his injuries?

  4. Is oxycodone really so bad ass that some doctors won’t prescribe it? I didn’t realize it was that tough.

  5. It’s not that the drug is “badass,” it’s that you’re liable to get arrested as a drug dealer for prescribing enough of it to actually treat severe pain.

  6. This isn’t tragic, it’s criminal. Someone should be prosecuted for taking this man’s license away.

  7. Boo Hoo. If those wimps can’t take the pain, then they did the world a favor by making sure we don’t have to listen to them bitch about their lives.

  8. I am a patient at a pain clinic (genetic degenerative musculoskeletal disorder) & this scares the crap out of me.

  9. Is oxycodone really so bad ass that some doctors won’t prescribe it? I didn’t realize it was that tough.

    Tough? No. It is a time release oxycodone with no APAP, meaning you can take a shitload with no danger of liver toxicity. Also, if you crush them up and snort them, you eliminate the time release and it’s like taking a shot of heroin.

    Not that I would know anything about that.

  10. Okay, that’s one of the saddest fucking things I have ever read. Halfway that article had me on the verge of tears, and it was only by sheer force of will I managed to finish it.
    Those motherfuckers.

  11. Jilly, which one do you have? I had a childhood friend with Muscular Dystrophy.

  12. Sounds a lot like what happened in the case of Dr. William Hurwitz: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hurwitz

    Glad to see the government is out there protecting people from the escapism in a pill that is pain medication.

  13. Is oxycodone really so bad ass that some doctors won’t prescribe it?

    No, but the DEA is.

  14. What J sub said. In case we were able to forget for a second how disastrously fucked up this system is, here’s another shitty reminder. The people who think these regs are a good idea have apparently never seen a loved one suffer?

  15. Is oxycodone really so bad ass that some doctors won’t prescribe it? I didn’t realize it was that tough.

    Not at all. It’s all scare tactics.

  16. So what’s the big deal? If they’d rather die than live with their pain then they had better do it and decrease the surplus population. We should all be thankful that our noble drug warriors are helping to weed out the weak, the poor and the infirm and thereby improve the general population.

  17. Is oxycodone really so bad ass that some doctors won’t prescribe it?

    I used to do scheduling for a hospital, and I’m proud to say that at least under the hospice program, they gave that shit out like candy (not just oxycodone, but the whole gamut of opiates). People went home with their regularly prescribed pain meds, and a nice emergency stash in case of crisis. But you shouldn’t have to elect hospice to get that kind of care. Fuck.

  18. Again, another example of more government equaling more disorder and more chaos.

  19. But Dagny, was that in Canada or the US?

  20. This is why licensing of any occupation must end. Licensure of occupations is evidence of a civilization retarding itself.

  21. Also, if you crush them up and snort them, you eliminate the time release and it’s like taking a shot of heroin.

    Actually, that’s Oxycontin you’re thinking of, which is a slow-release version of oxycodone. The slow release stuff is better for patients who do not tend to have issues with runaway tolerance. Which is a very real problem, since pain control can slip away and patients start “chasing tolerance.”

    Pain doctors have a really thankless job (from those not in pain). Not only because it’s a newer specialty, but because of the legal and insurance issues.

  22. sage, yeah, I thought he wrote Oxycontin. I am a little stupid today. You know what I could use? Some oxycodone.

  23. sage, yeah, I thought he wrote Oxycontin. I am a little stupid today. You know what I could use? Some oxycodone.

    And two beers to chase.

  24. Is oxycodone really so bad ass that some doctors won’t prescribe it? I didn’t realize it was that tough.

    Um, A friend of mine, yeah that’s right, a friend, crushed and snorted OxyContin tablets once. It was just like snorting junk that my friend did once in the seneties. If heroin were a schedule II drug, Oxycodone would have no market. Heroin can be put in tiny time pills too. There’s not a lot of cash for drug companies there.

    Lot’s of diverse groups have their own selfish reasons to support the War on Drugs the Sick.

    Oxycodone is synthetic heroin. No better, no worse. It is neither more or less addictive or dangerous.

  25. I am fully sympathetic to the tragic circumstances here, put harm reduction must consider reducing harms to all of society and not just harms to an individual. In other words, sometimes an individual must suffer for the good of society. These drugs need to be tightly restricted to prevent diversion and addiction.

    I think these drugs should be used for terminally ill patients, but for patients with chronic pain but not terminal illness they can only be used short term because they are addictive. It is unfortunate that modern medicine cannot treat chronic pain effectively, but this should be an area of research.

  26. And two beers to chase.

    And a Valium when coming down.

  27. Um, A friend of mine, yeah that’s right, a friend,

    You mean SWIM.

  28. I am seriously considering working in pain treatment. Stuff like this sickens me.

  29. And a Valium when coming down.

    THAT is a friggin’ great Saturday.

  30. I am fully sympathetic to the tragic circumstances here, put harm reduction must consider reducing harms to all of society and not just harms to an individual. In other words, sometimes an individual must suffer for the good of society. These drugs need to be tightly restricted to prevent diversion and addiction.

    I think these drugs should be used for terminally ill patients, but for patients with chronic pain but not terminal illness they can only be used short term because they are addictive. It is unfortunate that modern medicine cannot treat chronic pain effectively, but this should be an area of research.

    You write like an eighth grader doing a term paper.

    This paper fails. Repeat eighth grade.

  31. Yeah, its better to let these people live in horrible pain until they kill themselves than to allow for the possibility of junkies getting high. Drug warriors are evil, cruel motherfuckers.

  32. harm reduction must consider reducing harms to all of society and not just harms to an individual.

    Exactly – and no drug can harm society nearly as badly as the War on Drugs harms society. That’s why it needs to stop.

  33. THAT is a friggin’ great Saturday.

    Substitute tramadol for the oxy and add some excellent conversation, and yes. Yes it was.

  34. Substitute tramadol for the oxy and add some excellent conversation, and yes. Yes it was.

    I once tried oxy and a six pack. That was overkill. I sat on the couch drooling on myself for 6 hours.

  35. But Dagny, was that in Canada or the US?

    It was actually in Seattle. Might have just been an exceptionally good hospice team, though. It was so weird to see how the same patient would get such different care once they transferred to hospice.

  36. Mr. Goiter, the eighth-graders you know write killer satire.

    At least I hope that’s what we read.

  37. A few people have tried to inject some humor into this (to my mind) humorless subject but Thomas Stanley | October 7, 2008, 12:56pm was the funniest of all.

    It was meant to be funny, right, Thomas?

  38. but for patients with chronic pain but not terminal illness they can only be used short term because they are addictive.

    If a patient has chronic pain he needs to keep taking the drug because of the pain. What difference does it make if he gets “addicted,” which only means he has a need to keep taking the drug.

    It is unfortunate that modern medicine cannot treat chronic pain effectively

    Modern medicine could treat pain much more effectively than it does if the DEA wasn’t busting every physician that tries to.

    but this should be an area of research.

    Take a wild guess who writes and enforces rules that make research in treating chronic pain with drugs impossible.

  39. Mr. Goiter, the eighth-graders you know write killer satire.

    It wasn’t nearly good enough to be satire.

  40. Might have just been an exceptionally good hospice team, though.

    I would guess that this is the case. Willingness to give out painkillers varies wildly from doctor to doctor.

  41. Lemme say this, as some of you know, I get a goodly supply of vicodin and other things every month for severe and chronic back pain. I have a wife and 2 kids and by all accounts, we are poor. I can’t consider selling my pills to supplement our income as i need every one of them. (not that I would anyway, you know)
    Oxy works better for my pain and has less side effects in me but my Pain management Doc is hesitant to prescribe it long term due to a possible future surgery. He wants to save something for post surgical pain.

    Addicts will find their fix somewhere. Pain management Docs are doing the best they can working in a regulatory quicksand minefield.
    As for untreated chronic pain ending in suicide, Yessir, I can see that happening. and Somebody has to be responsible imho.

  42. i apologize for the 8th grade level continuum.

  43. If a patient has chronic pain he needs to keep taking the drug because of the pain. What difference does it make if he gets “addicted,” which only means he has a need to keep taking the drug.

    Because if tolerance levels start to increase it can become difficult to tell if the patient’s pain is escaping control or if tolerance is getting in the way of the drug working effectively. The pain doctors I know of (yeah, I know) are not so much worried about “addiction” so long as when it’s time to stop taking one particular drug it’s tapered properly to avoid too much withdrawl.

  44. If a patient has chronic pain he needs to keep taking the drug because of the pain. What difference does it make if he gets “addicted,” which only means he has a need to keep taking the drug.

    That’s “dependency,” which is a physical adaptation to a drug manifested through increased tolerance to dosing and withdrawl symptoms.

    It’s not addiction. Many people are dependent but not addicted. Addition is chronic drug abuse, abuse being using a drug to one’s physical, mental or social detriment.

    Someone who takes opiates for years due to chronic pain is almost certainly dependent, but if the medication improves their lives and gives them the ability to function, they are not abusing it, and thus not addicted.

  45. Someone who takes opiates for years

    Is worth a conversation.

  46. The states have no business licensing any occupation, including medical doctors. Licensing is just another example of rent seeking. It does not protect anybody’s health or safety. Any government policy or regulation that is defended on the ground that it is for public health or safety is a policy or regulation that needs to be retired.

  47. The states have no business licensing any occupation, including medical doctors. Licensing is just another example of rent seeking. It does not protect anybody’s health or safety.

    Yeah. Pretty much anyone knows how to do surgery after finishing 8th grade.

  48. J sub D-

    BTW, what has any active duty military person done to protect the rights of individuals to take pain killers? What has any active duty military person done to protect the rights of a doctor to prescribe pain medication to his patients?

    Wouldn’t a hero take on the DEA? Wouldn’t a hero take a two by four to any drug warrior who dared to step foot in a doctor’s office? Please give me examples of active duty soldiers doing the above and you would have a better argument for the “everybody paying their fair share” philosophy.

  49. Just you wait. HCVA (medicare) is jonesing to require e-prescribing (all done on a computer direct to the pharmacy) the DEA is looking to require all physicians who prescibe sched II narcotics to have a hardware encryption key then to sit through a 2 minute “time out” and then to sign a shrinkwrap warning (like “if these narcotics are misused it’s your fault”). If you think it’s hard now to get the appropriate meds you need, just wait.

  50. J sub D-

    BTW, what has any active duty military person done to protect the rights of individuals to take pain killers? What has any active duty military person done to protect the rights of a doctor to prescribe pain medication to his patients?

    Wouldn’t a hero take on the DEA? Wouldn’t a hero take a two by four to any drug warrior who dared to step foot in a doctor’s office? Please give me examples of active duty soldiers doing the above and you would have a better argument for the “everybody paying their fair share” philosophy.

    Being a mostly law abiding citizen, (and retired, not active duty) I give time, money and my vote to causes/things I believe in.

    If you’re suggesting gunning down DEA agents or trying to subvert the political process (yeah, it sucks) would be either heroic or anything other than counterproductive, you are indeed a fool.

    So, what has libertymike done?

  51. J sub D-

    The question was asked of active duty personnel. You have argued that active duty military are protecting us and that we need some form of confiscatory taxation to finance this protection. If I am correct, you have said that these “services” are not free. Thus, my question is aimed at those who are currently in uniform-those who are supposed to be protecting us as we blog.

    Why would gunning down DEA agents be counterproductive? Don’t soldiers take an oath to protect the constitution? To defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic?
    I guess its ok to gun down little 4 and 5 year old Iraqi and Pakistani children, but counterproductive to gun down DEA thugs.

    Libertymike makes a habit of getting in the face of military personnel who claim that military service is heroic and that military personnel are protecting our “freedoms”. I tend to get in the face of authority, period.

  52. BTW-

    I am not being paid to protect your freedom or Joe’s, FLuffy’s or Epi’s.

  53. Indeed. A fool.

  54. J sub D-

    I see that you have run away from my original post. Probably because I have struck a nerve.

  55. This story proves that the war on some drugs is not about helping people or saving people from themselves. It is about control of people seeking temporary relief from agonizing pain.

    To the drug warrior government tit sucking scum-bags, suffering is a not a bug, it is a feature.

  56. Why are these people killing themselves instead of obtaining narcotics illegally? Is control of heroin, etc. so effective that they can’t get any?

  57. Why are these people killing themselves instead of obtaining narcotics illegally? Is control of heroin, etc. so effective that they can’t get any?

    The thing about opiates is you really can’t be starting and stopping (I mean, you can – if you don’t mind going through withdrawl frequently), and while acquiring them isn’t a problem, acquiring a constant supply can be difficult, bordering on impossible.

  58. Also, there’s the massive cost involved with black market pain-killers

  59. @Robert

    Why are these people killing themselves instead of obtaining narcotics illegally? Is control of heroin, etc. so effective that they can’t get any?

    Many (most? nearly all?) people taking strong painkillers under a doctors supervision stay scrupleously away from the kinds of social circles where you can buy block-market opiates.

    They get enough googly eyed looks as it is.

    So it would take time.

    I’ve written my bit on the war on pain patients before.

  60. Many (most? nearly all?) people taking strong painkillers under a doctors supervision stay scrupleously away from the kinds of social circles where you can buy block-market opiates.

    Oh, I won’t bother making the cx I need for the drugs, too much trouble, I’ll just kill myself, way more convenient.

    I find it hard to believe many people are at more than 3 degrees of separation from where they could buy black market opiates.

  61. It’s not the gun it’s the person.It’s not the Pit Bull It’s the owner.It’s not the beer it’s the DUI driver.IT’S NOT THE MEDICATION IT’S THE PERSON.
    I have a very severe CNS disease that is very painful.Oxycodone is the only med. that has ever worked.I take it as written.I am dependent not addicted.
    I have a wife and a 8 yr. old daughter that depend on me.
    It is painfully obvious that you anti-
    oxycodone people(assholes),could’nt walk 10ft in my pain,much less day after day for over 8 yrs.
    It just goes to show how imature yal are.I’ll bet that yal even enjoy others
    being in pain.Or either your life is so
    pathetic that you get-off putting other people down.Make you feel better about your own shortcomings.
    You will eat your own words one day,I just hope you remember how you put others down for taking pain medecine.Grow up.wake up.I guess I will
    take my wifes insulin from her because she’s dependent on it?
    SYMPATHY,MERCY=look it up in dictionary

  62. All of you people that are against pain
    meds. obviously has never watched a loved one in pure agony with chronic pain.
    You will eat your words one day,I did.
    I was a big tough guy.I could handle any pain,people that need pain meds are weak,ect….
    Until I watched my dad suffer with a
    CNS disease called ST(look it up).I thought it was all in his mind.Until I was also struck w, a CNS disease.I ate every word I ever said about people with chronic pain.
    GROW-UP…..YOU MIGHT BE NEXT..

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