September 10, 2009
The Drug War escalates.
From prosecuting doctors, to prosecuting their supporters!
It's bad enough that doctors are afraid to prescribe pain medication because the government is breathing down their necks. But now the government is going after people who are speaking up in defense of targeted doctors.
OK, regular readers know I'm biased, so let me get that out of the way. I don't think that the government has any business telling doctors how much pain medication they should prescribe, for what reason, or to whom. I think that drug addicts have just as much of a right to an untrammeled relationship with their doctors as anyone else, and I think that if a doctor wants to prescribe drugs to an addict he should be allowed to do so, even if that would only relieve symptoms of, but not cure, his addiction. That, however, is a crime, and not only can the doctor be arrested for it, but thanks to the war on drugs, compassionate conduct becomes a criminal enterprise:
Prescribing painkillers becomes drug trafficking, applying for insurance reimbursement becomes fraud, making bank deposits becomes money laundering, and working with people at the office becomes conspiracy.While I think that's an outrage, I realize some people think that doctors who prescribe to addicts should go to jail. The problem is, when prescribing to addicts is a crime, that acts as a deterrent to prescribing to people who need narcotics for pain. Pain is inherently subjective, and because the system turns addicts into skillful and manipulative liars, how is a doctor supposed to know whether a claim of pain is "legitimate" or not? It makes him waste an inordinate amount of time, and turns him from a healer into a sort of "pain cop" whether he likes it or not.
Under this "system," a patient's plaintive cries for pain relief ("Doctor, I want Oxycontin! Doctor, please! I need more Oxycontin!") is likely to be seen as highly suspicious, as "drug-seeking behavior." And of course if it is the latter, the doctor has good reason to fear that law enforcement officials might go from breathing down his neck to raiding his office. If you think this is my paranoia, you don't know the ways of the street. An addict who gets Oxycontin from a doctor and later gets popped for selling some of it on the street would often be highly "motivated" to "cooperate" and say whatever the ambitious drug warriors might want him to say.
Call me biased, but I think this entire approach is horribly wrong, and it interferes with the practice of medicine. That's my opinion, and regardless of who agrees with me or whether I'm right or wrong, I at least have the right to express myself, and naturally, I would defend any doctor singled out by the government for prosecution.
I have a First Amendment right to do that, have I not?
According to the government, no!
Nine months after a federal judge rejected [Assistant United States Attorney] Treadway's attempt to gag Reynolds, the activist learned she was the subject of a grand jury investigation into possible obstruction of justice. Reynolds and PRN received subpoenas demanding their communications with dozens of people, including relatives of the Schneiders and members of their defense team. Tellingly, the material sought includes correspondence related to a PRN-commissioned billboard in Wichita proclaiming "Dr. Schneider never killed anyone."So, apparently our government -- under President Obama -- thinks free speech does not include the right to criticize the war on doctors.
This is a national disgrace.
posted by Eric on 09.10.09 at 10:59 AM
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