When the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rescheduled hydrocodone from Schedule III to Schedule II last October, many pain patients feared their pain medication supply would be interrupted.
100 days later, it appears they were right.
A survey released today (Friday March 19) found that two-thirds of responders reported an inability to access hydrocodone-combination prescriptions.
The survey was presented by the Millennium Research Institute at the 31st annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine in National Harbor, Maryland. The survey was conducted by the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association.
The other key findings of the survey include:
- More than 15 percent of the responders reported negative impacts on doctor-patient relationships. They noted experiencing withdrawal due to the regulation change.
- Survey respondents cited higher expenses from more frequent doctor’s visits, higher medication co-pays, and greater transportation expenses for extra doctor’s visits and travel to multiple pharmacies, and lost income related to inability to work due to pain.
- More than a quarter of respondents (27 percent) reported suicidal thoughts due to being denied their hydrocodone prescriptions.
For readers of the National Pain Report, this hardly qualifies as news. Since the DEA announced its attentions, a recent story we published about prescribing narcotics, set off a long chain of commentary from readers who were (and are) plainly frustrated about the effect of the DEA action.
Said Tammera Heiberger:
“For those of us who are legitimate chronic pain sufferers it will severely affect our lives and the lives our families. I do understand the concern for those who are just drug seekers but the AMA. need to take into consideration that doctors do know the difference between the two. And the DEA need to not punish legitimate doctors who are trying to help those of us who do need opiates to help control the pain.”
Brenda Smith wrote:
“I could not and will not live a limited life of suffering. It’s limited and painful enough even with the narcotics.”
In the survey released this week, 52% of the patients expressed an increased sense of stigma about being a pain patient.
Rhonda Brashier echoed those sentiments in a note on the National Pain Report website.
“So continue to live with no quality of life is what they want us to do. I mean if you have to take blood pressure, insulin etc the rest of your life you are dependent on those drugs, it is a difference in dependence and addiction!”
The survey also found something that we are picking up in our coverage. 53% of patients say they are forced to drive more often to see their health care provider, with 42% driving an additional 20 miles or more to see their HCP.
What are your thoughts?