California Lawmakers Demand List of Risky Doctors

California Lawmakers Demand List of Risky Doctors

The nation’s largest state may be girding for a fight with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, a widely used and highly addictive opioid painkiller.

Oxycontin 2 SH jpg_The LA Times reported this week that Purdue has a list of 1,800 doctors nationally that it believes have risky prescribing histories of the drug. Fifty-nine of the physicians are practicing in California, but Purdue won’t say who they are.

State Senator Ted Lieu, a Democrat from Southern California, wrote the company a letter Monday demanding that the company release the names.

“Painkillers serve a useful role but they can be abused,” Lieu told National Pain Report. “People are dying of over-prescription. If Purdue has a data base of risky doctors who may be recklessly and carelessly prescribing, they have a moral duty to let California know about it.”

In 2010, over 16,000 Americans died from painkiller overdoses. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that deaths from painkillers among middle age women was the fast growing sector.

CDC researchers reviewed death certificates, which are sometimes incomplete. Specific drugs were not identified in every death. In others, a combination of drugs was involved, such as painkillers taken with tranquilizers. CDC officials think more than 70 percent of the overdose deaths were unintentional.

What the real mortality numbers are in California has Lieu asking questions. He’s introduced a bill that will require county coroners to inform the California Medical Board of any death related to pain medication, which will give the board information that it can investigate.

“It could help find doctors who are over prescribing,” said Lieu.

An easier way would be for Purdue to simply provide its internal list of risky doctors. The company has referred some cases to law enforcement agencies or state medical regulators, but has refused to release the entire list. An attorney for Purdue told the Times said each case was “essentially a judgment call” made after an internal review.

Lieu said that if Purdue doesn’t notify California about which of their risky doctors practice in the state, he will look at introducing legislation to require it.

A California author on addiction, Richard Taite, called Purdue’s inaction “outrageous.”

Taite says it’s a Catch 22 for the company.

“If they deliver this list to authorities they open themselves up to liability in future wrongful death suits,” said Taite, the co-author of Ending Addiction for Good.

“If they don’t, they look like they are protecting doctors who may be ineffectual to preserve profits.”

Lieu is not a lone wolf on the issue in California. State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, a Democrat from the San Francisco Bay area, told the Times he would join Lieu in demanding answers from Purdue. DeSaulnier said he’s been asking Purdue for year to help fund California’s prescription drug monitoring system, known as CURES, but Purdue hasn’t been much help.

Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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REPLY TO MARK MESSY… My computer wouldn’t open the page to your comment, so I hope you do get to see this. It was interesting to read about the new device & having been through very much the same as you, as far as the spinal injections, tens machines & constant daily medication, I do realise that anything that will relieve pain we would try. My particular interest was about the MRI. Having gone through an operation for a very large brain tumour that was growing back into the brain stem, I had to have a plate & screws fixed after removal of the tumour. I was told I would never be able to have another MRI. I was able to follow the link you provided & the procedure can be performed by CAT scan. Thank you for the info….

John Quintner, Physician in Pain Medicine

The article in the LA Times also contained the following:

Andrew Kolodny, a New York addiction doctor who is leading an effort to curb narcotic painkillers, said such decisions should not be made by a pharmaceutical company.

“That judgment needs to be made by state medical boards, not a corporation that benefits from overprescribing,” he said. “Purdue should make the list available to state medical boards so that physicians on the list can be investigated.”

In my opinion, Dr Kolodny’s advice is more balanced than the making of a threat to introduce what sounds like Draconian legislation.