The FDA's intrusion on our freedom is supplemented by another agent of the Nanny State. The Drug Enforcement Agency's war on drug dealers has led them to watch pain-management doctors like hawks. Drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin provide wonderful pain relief. But because they are also taken by "recreational" drug users, doctors go to jail for prescribing quantities that the DEA considers "inappropriate." As a result, pain specialists are scared into underprescribing painkillers. Sick people suffer horrible pain needlessly.
Think I exaggerate? Check out the website of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) (aapsonline.org). It warns doctors not to go into pain management. "Drug agents now set medical standards. ... There could be years of harassment and legal fees," says the AAPS. Today, even nursing-home patients, hardly candidates for drug gangs, don't get pain relief they need.
The DEA told us that good doctors have nothing to worry about. But Siobhan Reynolds, who started the Pain Relief Network after her late husband was unable to get sufficient pain medicine, says the DEA's cherry-picked medical experts persuade juries that they should jail any doctor who administers higher doses of pain relief than the DEA's zealots think appropriate. News of those jail terms spreads. Doctors learn to be stingy with pain meds.
All drugs involve risk. In a free country, it should be up to individuals, once we're adults, to make our own choices about those risks. Patrick Henry didn't say, "Give me absolute safety, or give me death." He said "liberty." That is what America is supposed to be about.
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