And when they say feel the pain, boy, do they ever mean it. Literally. The Obama Administration wants to clamp down hard on the inordinate amount of narcotics being prescribed to a nation of slobbering junkies. They want doctors to undergo special training in order to weed out the addicts from the bona fide legal sufferers. And guess who would provide this special training to the clueless doctors who have already gone through three years of medical school and another three to five years of internship, residency and postgraduate training? Why, the drug companies, of course! The very pharmaceutical companies which manufacture the pills will be trusted to tell doctors how to prescribe less and vet their patients with a vengeance. They would also be forced to bear the costs of the pain meds classes. I can just envision the outcome. Profits are at stake here, people! Watch out for a merry-go-round of lobbyists and sudden influxes of political contributions from drugmakers to the lawmakers in charge of this noble effort. Watch out, too, for a chilling effect on doctors trying to alleviate the pain of the suffering. Big Brother DEA will be watching them more closely than ever and monitoring every controlled substances form in triplicate. Watch out for people in pain being turned away, in droves.
Pain medication is actually being underprescribed by most American physicians, according to a slew of surveys. Doctors are already afraid enough of being investigated by the DEA. (The only sure way to score a Vicodin prescription, according to one unnamed doctor I know, is to be a police officer with an on-the-job injury. Then your health care provider is safe from scrutiny.)
Meanwhile, the Administration is "absolutely committed to legislation that will make prescriber education mandatory,” R. Gil Kerlikowske, the Obama Drug Czar, announced. He said the White House will push hard for the legislation, and that he has already approached members of congress to discuss and craft it. He wants it done by the end of the year. Among the drugs to be more strictly monitored are OxyContin (long-acting oxycodone), fentanyl and methadone.
"They are considered critical to pain treatment. But they also have been associated in recent years with a national epidemic of prescription drug abuse and addiction, as well as thousands of overdose-related deaths," according to The New York Times. "The F.D.A. has long argued that only Congress has the authority to mandate physician training as a condition of prescribing narcotics, because the legal distribution of the drugs is regulated by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and the licensing of doctors to prescribe them is overseen by the D.E.A., not the F.D.A."
Kerlikowske, former Seattle Police Chief, is the same guy who got rid of the "War on Drugs" slogan, but he continues to do battle against marijuana legalization. He's the same guy who threatened to sue the State of California if it legalized weed. He loves Nancy Reagan's "Just Say NO" anti-drugs campaign, and thinks it worked. He also has a pretty poor civil liberties reputation. In March 2007, the NAACP called for his resignation, stemming from his alleged cover-up of a police brutality incident against a drug dealer. The case was referred to the FBI and the Justice Department, which found no evidence of corruption against Kerlikowske or the Seattle P.D, despite video footage of the incident. Kerlikowske is a graduate of the FBI Academy's executive program.
Kerlikowske, who also has a masters degree in criminal justice, thinks our doctors just didn't get enough training about addiction and pain management in medical school. So, his solution is to legislate the drug companies -- the altruistic drug companies which have only the best interests of the populace at heart and work hard to keep the prices of its United States drugs the highest in the world, and blackmailed the President into backing off drug price negotiations in health insurance reform in exchange for their cooperation - into teaching doctors who already have more education than their overpaid CEOs could ever hope to attain.
Sure, there's a drug problem in this country. People often self-medicate because they have no health insurance, they're miserable due to joblessness, or they are in psychic pain for any number of reasons. And the way we have of dealing with it is ass backwards. We don't treat addicts -- we jail them. Only the rich and insured go to rehab. Insurance companies are stingy about covering it. The government's solution is to make both the addicts and the sick suffer needlessly and crack down on doctors instead of cracking down on illegal drug labs and internet sales and the constant barrage of TV commercials actually urging us to pop a pill for any condition, real or imagined. How sick is that?
|Take Two Aspirin and Don't Call Me in the Morning|