The Montana Board of Medical Examiners is expected to rule soon on the fate of Helena’s Dr. Mark Ibsen. The Montana Board of Medical Examiners’s screening panel reviewed 9 cases given to it by a former employee to see if Dr. Ibsen had over-prescribed. The Montana Board will decide whether he over-prescribed and if so, what sanctions may be appropriate.
Ibsen was defended in a letter from three pain advocates to U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, Montana Governor Steve Bullock and the state’s only members of the U.S. House, Ryan Zinke and the Montana Board of Medical Examiners.
The March 20 letter from Terri Anderson and Gary Snook of the Arachnoiditis Society for Awareness and Prevention and Terry Conyers, a self-described arachnoiditis survivor asked that negative actions against Dr. Ibsen be dismissed because he is “not the source of the problem in Montana.” The three western Montanans said they are not patients of Dr. Ibsen.
In the letter they say “we are writing this letter on behalf of Dr. Mark Ibsen and patients suffering various acute and chronic pain conditions throughout Montana.”
They asked for the elected leaders help.
“We believe regulators are targeting the wrong physician (Ibsen) . We want to bring you the harmed patient perspective because the model for treating chronic and intractable pain is failing the consumer.”
Ibsen, whose story we have been following at the National Pain Report, contends that the increase in his pain medication prescriptions are because many doctors in Montana have stopped prescribing pain medication for patients because of increased regulatory pressure on pain medication prescription practices. (Here is an op-ed written by Dr. Ibsen for the National Pain Report in February.)
Ibsen told us that he has had five visits from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this year alone. The DEA announced last October it was rescheduling hydrocodone which has had an impact on the pain patients ability to acquire pain medications.
A survey released in March indicated pain patients are not happy.
The survey was sponsored by the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, Millennium Research Institute, American Academy of Pain Management (AAPM) and PRA Health Sciences.
The initial results were announced at the American Academy of Pain Medicine meeting in Maryland.
The study reveals that 88% of patients believe the change denies chronic pain patients their right to adequate pain treatment, and 72% say it is harmful to pain patients.
In addition to the DEA announcement which occurred in October of last year, the Department of Health and Human Services waded in last week with a release that stated it is expanding its role in reducing prescription opioid and heroin related overdose, death and dependence.
Ibsen thinks the federal and state government regulators are looking at the wrong issue, which they contend is narcotic pain medication abuse.
He told the National Pain Report that federal agencies report a crisis in pain, but that the government’s actions are leaving confusion for patients, pharmacists, regulators and doctors.
The chief spokesperson for the survey is Dr. Steve Passik, Vice President of Clinical Research and Advocacy at Millennium Health.
He told the National Pain Report in a recent story:” Where opioids are concerned we dramatically expanded their use and then we went from having one tremendous public health problem, chronic pain to having two by adding the problem of prescription drug abuse and the pendulum has been swinging between the two to try and figure out an effective strategy to keep people with pain treated and to avoid, abuse, addiction, overdose and death.”
We’ll keep you up to date on what the Montana regulators decide about Dr. Ibsen.