When a Solution Becomes a Problem: Doctors and Lawmakers on Opiate Painkillers

Thursday, July 29, 2010

drugs, medication, pain, oxycontin (Flickr user pingpongdeath)

Today an FDA advisory panel meets with lawmakers to hammer out voluntary best practices for doctors who prescribe opiates. The regulation of opioid drugs like Oxycontin has loosened in recent years, as patient advocates asked for powerful narcotic painkillers for end-of-life care and cancer treatments. But in loosening restrictions for such cases, the FDA opened a window for wider prescriptions — and for abuse.

In 2007, according to the FDA, 5.2 million people reported using powerful prescription drugs for nonmedical use. Even those who need the drugs can often develop destructive dependencies.

Even as the FDA works on voluntary guidelines, Washington State is looking to create more powerful binding regulations. As Barry Meier reports in today’s New York Times, doctors will likely be looking at Washington State for a national model. Meier joins The Takeaway, along with Joel Saper, director of the Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute and author of an upcoming paper offering expert recommendations on the use of opioids for headaches.


Barry Meier and Joel Saper

Produced by:

Posey Gruener

Comments [3]

sean mckenna from syracuse ny

I suffer chronic pain due to multiple injuries.I cannot get enough medication to control the pain. I get 3 10-325 oxycodone a day.after seven years of suffering I am at my wits end.It seems like you can get them on the street esier than from a doctor.the pain is unbearable.and I dont know what to do.Pain management clinics are booked and not an option with my insurance at this time.had a nervous breakdown over this a year ago.go to college and work.at the end of the day I have to crawl in our house at times.what can I do.help me please.

Nov. 14 2010 12:35 PM
Sara Crocker from Cohasset, MA

Your s how on painkillers didn't mention the bigger issue with painkillers...which is abuse. I know dozens of people who have abused them and even more (like myself) who know how to manipulate Dr.s into giving them whatever narcotic they want. Dr.s should be trained on how NOT to be duped...but up against someone like me with an acting degree, they don't stand a chance. Oddly enough I deeply resent dr.s over the years for being so 'weak', I was sober for 12 years before someone perscribed Oxys to me after an operation, yet they know I was an addict and they kept giving me huge dosage. I'm finally sober again but know too many people trapped in the cycle of addition with pain meds. Hope the dr. you had on your show can make a difference.

Jul. 29 2010 07:35 AM
Joanne Gibson from New York City

After my neurologist reviewed the results of tests he had prescribed to rule out multiple sclerosis, the announced that I was fine but would I like something to deal with the vague symptoms with which I had presented and, if so, what would I like. I had no idea -- he said, his wife really liked oxycondin so he wrote up a prescription for me. Then, after foot surgery, my podiatrist prescribed the same (only more potent). I had not tried the medication in the first instance but did in the second -- once. It just made me feel woozy and did not touch the pain. I flushed the remaining pills.

Jul. 29 2010 07:29 AM

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