Let’s give some of them the benefit of the doubt.
Six hundred thousand doctors, dentists and physician assistants are licensed by the D.E.A. to prescribe controlled substances, according to Obama administration’s drug policy advisor R. Gil Kerlikowske.
Prescribing physicians “don’t get a lot of information in their training about pain management, about addiction, about tolerance and dependence,” Kerlikowske is quoted as saying in this 4/20/11 NYTimes article, which has also taught me this interesting tidbit about laws regarding prescription drugs in our country:
“The F.D.A. has long argued that only Congress has the authority to mandate physician training as a condition of prescribing narcotics. That is 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.” So, it seems, the F.D.A clears the drugs for distribution into the pharmacy stream, and then has nothing to do with how they are distributed. No wonder it is so hard to regulate.
Now, several proposals are being put before congress. One would require that prescribing physicians receive extra training. According to the NY Times article: the Obama administration’s drug policy advisor Kerlikowski would like to see an “amendment to the Controlled Substances Act to require that doctors undergo training as a condition of the renewal of licenses issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration for the prescription of narcotics.”
Mary Bono Mack’s bill, on the other hand, proposes stricter guidelines as to when certain prescription painkillers can be prescribed; limiting stronger painkillers to more severe pain.
It seems to me that the first proposal makes more sense. It doesn’t take away the doctor’s prescribing power but perhaps gives them more tools to assess a patient for addictive tendencies.
This, and a computerized tracking system might be what are needed in this country to stop doctor shopping and pill milling. A step in the right direction, at least.