Friday, August 22, 2014

More Idiocy from the DEA, and it's personal this time.



Once it takes effect, I will have to schedule and pay for a doctor's visit each time to get a refill prescription for the only medication that can touch my hip pain. I've been fortunate that this summer's pain has been markedly lower than in the winter and spring when I was shelling through them with a refill a month, but I don't know that this winter won't bring a return of the increased pain levels. 

There's nothing better than telling someone who's in pain that they now have to make an appointment (and nothing may even be available right away), drive to the doctor's, sit in the waiting room and office (in pain), pay for the visit, just to get a refill on an ongoing issue. 

I remember crying on the phone in the aftermath of my hysterectomy surgery, when I was bedridden on a catheter, in agony,  and out of the pain meds prescribed upon release from the hospital (Oxycodone) when the nurse told me that medication could not be refilled unless I made an appointment and came in to get a refill. Luckily, Vicodin was available to be called in instead and it worked. No more.

And my case is nothing compared to the millions who live with must worse chronic pain every day.

A DEA Crackdown That's Going to Hurt Those in Pain

Because there will be no more refills, DEA’s proposal means at least 300 million office visits per year (figuring that most chronic pain prescriptions are refillable twice). Nowadays, one just doesn’t walk in and out of a doc’s office. Most pain doctors are so busy that appointments must be made months in advance, and appointment, travel and waiting easily burn half a day. That’s 150 million worker days lost. Based upon average annual wages, employers will pay (and you and I will shoulder) about $13 billion in wages for doctor-visit induced absenteeism. And the office visits will add another $20 billion in cost, payable through the patient’s insurance or someone else’s taxes. . . . 

Given the problem of polypharmacy, it’s charitable to assume that the DEA’s proposal may prevent half those deaths. Are 3,000 unprevented deaths pretty high overhead for pain relief? Well, consider NSAIDs. About 16,000 people who use these medications for arthritis alone die each year, due to the drugs’ propensity to enhance internal bleeding. It would seem from this that DEA would save a lot more lives if it made ibuprofen harder to get, so that those with pain would have to switch to hydrocodone or oxycodone.


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