DEA Comment Period on Opioid Quotas Ends May 4

DEA Comment Period on Opioid Quotas Ends May 4

By Ed Coghlan.

The National Pain Report published its story over the past weekend that the Drug Enforcement Administration wants to have the authority to impose quotas on companies who manufacture opioids. It opened a public comment period on Friday April 19 that will run until May 4.

For many chronic pain advocate groups and individuals, this proposed regulation could further impact the supply and the resulting prescription of opioids that chronic pain patients use.

If you wish to leave a comment about the regulation, click here.

Richard “Red” Lawhern is the public face of the Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain. He has submitted his organization’s comments to the DEA. He contacted the National Pain Report this weekend asking that we publish his letter for your review, which felt like a reasonable request.

Here’s what he submitted:

I write as a non-physician subject matter expert on chronic pain and prescription opioid policy.  I co-lead the Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain, an organization of over 250 medical professionals, healthcare writers, knowledgeable patients and caregivers, with an outreach in social media of about 80,000 daily. 

Our unified message to DEA is “cease, halt and desist”. 

The proposed DEA measures to restrict supplies of scheduled drugs based on “diversion” can aptly be compared to an effort to reduce America’s “obesity epidemic” by reducing food supplies.  This is simple foolishness on a grand scale.  Proposed DEA regulation changes have potential to further damage health and quality of life for millions of chronic pain patients who have already been harmed by biases, errors and omissions of the 2016 CDC opioid guidelines, mandated refusal of opioid therapy to millions of US Veterans, and imposition of arbitrary and scientifically unsupported restrictions on so-called “high dose” prescribing by HHS/CMS. 

DEA has no reliable measures for diversion at the individual medical practice level, given a wide range of “normal” prescribing practices between individual doctors acting in good faith to serve different patient populations.  Prescribing levels as such are not a viable basis for restricting medical supply, absent a detailed knowledge of the patients and conditions serviced by the medical practice.  Likewise, restriction of medical opioid supply has already been tried and failed.  Prescriptions are now at a 10 year low, while overdose deaths continue to climb (see attachments).

By contrast,  DEA has clearly failed in its public duty of oversight on major corporate drug distribution companies, notably McKesson.  DEA representatives in effect refused to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee when asked to explain how DEA missed the distribution of huge volumes of opioid medications into zip codes which lacked any credible medical markets for such distribution.  DEA investigators have publicly complained of refusals by DEA and DOJ prosecutors to take aggressive action against McKesson, with the clear implication that corporations bought the compliance of DEA officials with promises of later lucrative jobs on leaving government service. It would appear that DEA is unwilling to prosecute the knowing suppliers of major pill mills, but quite willing to harm millions of patients who have never abused a medication.

The urgency invested in the so-called “opioid crisis” has long been distorted by CDC false attribution of overdose-related  deaths to “prescription opioids” which were in fact caused by illegally manufactured fentanyl. CDC analysts have admitted publicly that CDC inflated prescription opioid deaths nearly 100% for years.  The dominant causes of the current opioid crisis are illegally manufactured Fentanyl and Heroin - with prescription opioids a distant fifth in overdose statistics.

DEA is straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

Diversion is an issue, but not in the context suggested by DEA.  According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 75 percent of all opioid misuse starts with people using medication that wasn’t prescribed for them — obtained from a friend, family member or dealer. However, there are no data to support the idea that further restriction of supply will change this dynamic.  We are already seeing widespread reports of hospital shortages of analgesics needed in surgery.  The proposed DEA action will only exacerbate these shortages while doing nothing to moderate the real public health problems of addiction and overdose death.

It is known from NIDA reports that addiction among medically managed patients is rare.  Likewise, risk of opioid abuse or chronic opioid prescription is less than 0.6% among patients prescribed opioids after surgery. Fewer than 1% extend a prescription beyond 13 weeks.  Many extended prescriptions reflect emergence of chronic pain due to failed surgery. 

We also challenge the often heard hype that so many prescriptions are written that every American adult could receive a bottle of pills.  Such statements are dangerously over-simplified anti-opioid propaganda.  When prescribing patterns are analyzed among millions of chronic and intractable pain patients, it is found that volumes are insufficient to adequately medicate people for whom no other therapies work. There is emerging evidence that refusal of pain management is driving patients into unsafe street markets.

Thus, our message to the DEA is to stand down.  You are chasing phantoms with supply restrictions which will harm millions of people while helping none. 

Regards and well wishes,

Richard A. “Red” Lawhern, Ph.D.

Co-Founder and Corresponding Secretary, Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain

(Editor’s Note: If you file a comment with the DEA, you are invited to leave a copy in our comments section to this story. Whatever you feel about the issue, it is important to have the voice of the chronic pain patient heard as public policy is drafted)

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Jessica S.

Extremely well written with credible sources as well. Thank you, Dr. Lawhern for your continued dedication to those who are suffering, yet are now being persecuted unjustly by our unpopular government offices; CDC & DEA. PROP, the damage you have done is disgusting and you should be appalled.
I am a palliative care patient with intractable pain who suffers from hEDS, an illness with no cure. I also, like so many others, have multiple health issues that contribute to the debilitating life that is now my own. Two cervical herniated discs, one cervical slipped disc, thecal sac effacement with borderline cord abutment, neuropathy, spinal enthesopathy, plantar fasciitis, dislocations, subluxations on multiple joints, multiple fibroids, umbilical hernia, ovarian hemorrhagic cyst that ruptures every month and then refills. That’s still not all of it. The pain is excruciating, intense, never-ending, debilitating and the muscle spasms alone make me feel as if someone is in my body ripping every single muscle. I never wanted these problems. I don’t want to have to take medication at all. However, my children and husband deserve a functioning member of the family and that only happens when I have my medication. I cannot work any longer but I do what I can for my household, as well as advocate heavily for different causes in my community.
With that being said, here’s the truth. CDC - You are a guideline. FDA - No limits on prescribing. DEA - Prescriptions are down, overdoses are up. Media - You cause mass hysteria due to your lack of proper journalism. You choose to advise the public about opioids such as fentanyl, especially involving any “busts” yet fail to say it’s illicit. It is. Doctors - Your prey.
Trump - You are not my president. “Opioid Crisis” is actually the “Illicit Fentanyl & Heroin Crisis” What have you done to stop illicit fentanyl from entering the country from China, which is ordered by the people you actually need to go after, put in heroin and then given to the unaware buyers who are dying. Overdoses all over the country just due to this and you do nothing. However, you made sure to limit the opioid supply by no longer allowing trade from the countries we were buying it from. However, unlike those poor people who will go to the ER due to a missing appendage, they might just get Tylenol now. Opioids are now on a lower supply. We owe you nothing & while I am sure you are not in pain, we will not be for long either. This is not over.

All i know living in pain everyday is awful read other post I’m so sorry we have to go through this it’s bad enough to have chronic pain now have to deal with doctors treating us like dopers humiliating to say the least take UA I fell so violated been on pain meds 8 years never abused them just thankful get out of pain quality of life now I wake up everyday hurting I’m getting tired of it I pray somethings going to give don’t give up chronic pain people your not alone helps to know were in this together prays


I’m 61 suffering with my disc spaces collapsing down on each other, spurring of all vertebras and narrowing of spinal cord from neck to butt. From fall and post Cushing syndrome. Does anyone know if we can start a call action suit?? About being denied the right to be treated equal for gaining access proper pain medication.


DEA Comment Period ended on May 4th. After I saw someone mention “Opioid Quota System” I searched for this. I found the Grassley, Feinstein, Durbin submitted a bill into Congrss in March for the very same thing. Why were we asked to comment?

I am a 37 year old, 80% (but currently appealing more disability decisions) combat veteran here. I have had chronic pain ever since I was in service and got medically discharged in 2010. Pain started in 2007 and has been in my back and neck ever since! I have tried it all, physical therapy for 2 years straight with no resolve, anti-inflammatories which I found out that I am allergic to, anti-psychotics to reduce pain, anti-depressants to reduce pain, chiropractic, massage therapy, non-narcotics, and pain medication. You know what works best to manage my pain to a level that I can actually function on? OPIATE PAIN MEDICATION!! I have used opiates to manage my pain since 2007 with no problems. Everything else I tried, while I was off of opiates did anything for my pain except increase my pain and make me aware that I am allergic to them or I get major other side effects from other medication used for pain management. I have successfully been on opiates without much increase for over 10 years. Most I ever took at once was 15mg oxycodone, (AND I EVEN TRIED REFUSING 15 MG DOSING BUT MY VA DR SAID THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS 10 MG DOSAGE after I REQUESTED 10 MG Oxy ONLY for after my surgery) That was only after my last surgery in August 2017. NOW, my VA PCP is tapering me off after prescribing me 15 mg Oxycodone for several months!! I am extremely unhappy and upset at how I am to manage my pain after surgery in August, a rollover car accident off of a highway going 30 MPH rolling twice a month after surgery, then I was in a rear end car accident Dec 2017.. BUT YET I AM TO STOP TREATING MY PAIN SUCCESSFULLY BY THE ONLY THING THAT HELPS BECAUSE CDC TOLD MY DR TO STOP PRESCRIBING!! I also have chronic pain to deal with from previous injuries, I have several auto-immune diseases that cause pain 24/7 and I have never failed a urinalysis.. DUMB! I demand change about this “so called opiate crisis” I am in a constant state of pain crisis without my medication.


Thank you so much for writing this and providing us with the link to allow our voices to be heard. I am a 50 year old who has suffered with chronic pain for the past 12 years. I’ve had 4 spinal surgeries which has just made my life worse and in all honesty non-existent. I had been taking pain medications successfully with great results for 11 years, up until 5 months ago when my dose was cut by 75%. I no longer live, I simply just exsist day to day. Like others have said, it’s not just me that has been effected by this, my family has suffered a great deal with having to watch me suffer on a hourly basis, not to mention my children who are now grown finally with medications had they’re mom back and ripped away again in a days time.

My doctor claims the reason for the massive decrease is due to studies showing patients have better results of pain control with lower doses, however it’s very obvious the true reason is due to this opioid epidemic and the fear of being investigated. My doctor is a pain management doctor and when I first met him he told me he chose this career because he wanted to help people to not suffer constant pain, he’s now gone back on that and is more concerned about the DEA rather than helping his patients.

After reading daily about how many doctors are reducing patients medications to a 90MME or cutting patients off all together, I have since coined the phrase that doctors are now treating patients with a “ONE DOSE FITS ALL”

This is wrong on so many levels, as patients are individuals and our pain should be treated individually. Everyone is different and everyone tolerates medications differently. To say to a chronic pain patient who suffers daily with a 7/8 Pain level that we can’t have anything over 90MME is pathetic, cruel and goes against a doctor’s oath of “First, do no harm “. Withholding pain medications that are available to us because they fear the DEA should be a crime in its self and doctors should be ashamed to have taken that oath.
Our pain medications are NOT what caused this epidemic, yet our medications are being blamed.
If the DEA thinks they have an overdose epidemic on their hands and it’s out of control now, they will soon see a much larger epidemic of mass suicides from patients who feel death is better than the pain they suffer daily.


While Obamacare failed the Insurance Industry found out EXACTLY how much money it would cost to Insure Chronic and Accute pain patients . Once the Government found out they started this mess. In 2014 they deregulated the DEA to not go after bad guys, over prescribing pharmacists, over prescribing doctors and over producing Drug makers. No one could go after anyone about “Opiates”. The Senators involved took millions in Campain funds from the Drug Lobby in those years including our bestest buddy Mr. Hatch. So the Drug Lobby were self regulated at that point. Any deaths from this is on them. And I believe they forsaw this clusterbleep and wanted it to fail. When have conservatives EVER wanted drugs that could make you high piling up before this? They wanted it to FAIL and fail it did.

Our lawmakers only ever think about MONEY. They probably started investing heavily in the area of addiction counciling. And guess who shows up right then to say I have no ties to anything and writes the 90 Milligram MME conversion? The FORMER President of the LARGEST addiction counciling Flophouse Dr Andrew Kolodny.


Thank you, Mr.Lawhern, you have opened up the facts, and made it easy to understand. At some point we’re all affected by the CDC and DEA and, I hope they will be listening to the public outcry


I am a 64 year old male, I am not a physician nor do I work in the medical field; what I am is a chronic pain sufferer that has used
prescription opiates responsibly for close to 16 years. I have never given medication to anyone else nor have I taken any
medication without my doctors knowledge and approval. I am now being treated as a criminal when I go to the doctors office
due to the false and purposely inaccurate information that is being doled out by your agency and the CDC. The media then
picks up the information and helps sensationalize the lies for the sake of more hits on their web page. Your agency has failed to
contain any and all illegal drug sales since the “war on drugs” began and in some corners are partially to blame for its violent
growth. To justify your continued existence (and more importantly your financing) you have begun to focus your attention on
easier prey - doctors and Chronic Pain Patients. Your agency is again asking for more power when your ability to wield the power
you have, is dubious. To ask for the ability to instigate and administer quotas on the manufacture of controlled substances is
the height of hubris for a failed system of enforcement.
I ask that you cease to be involved in the medical business and its many arms. Quit lying to the public and begin an in-house
cleaning to get rid of all the agents and representatives of your agency that stand to make money and upward career moves
on the backs of health care providers and their patients. Go out and do your jobs, enforce policy instead of pushing policy. Your
ability to make policy is hindered by your tools; the old saying ” If all you have is a hammer then everything looks like
a nail” has never been so blatantly true and obvious.
For the sake of our countries future and the millions of true sufferers please STOP this foolishness.

Jessica Reible

Thank you for your well written article! I have sent my comments & I have asked friends/family to comment on how this has effected their lives living with a chronic pain patient who is having to deal with these issues. It effects more than the patient. My husband & children have been robbed of a wife/mother due to excessive uncontrollable pain (7-9 on the pain scale) consistently 24/7 for over 14 months while my PCP dropped my meds (pain was controlled with opioids at 4-5). The anger I feel, for the way I was treated, is as bad as the pain I felt for those 14 months.

I so appreciate your help is this on going effort.


The DEA, HHS, and all other compartmetalized agencies really….don’t care if people live or die. When I was a rookie firefighter, I was told by the veteran firefighters, even if you don’t know exactly what you are doing yet, make it look like you do. The local newspaper and possibly tv coverage will be there so, “look good”. The “opioid crisis” is simply another red flag to what purpose I am not real sure yet. You CAN bet that $$$$$ are involved. Patient and doctor input of the harm the CDC “guideline” is causing and will continue to cause is purposely being deleted, unreported, not covered in mainstream media, and people ae suffering worse and some are dying. In my 59 years of life I have never seen such a misguided “policy”, stated to slow drug overdose. The OD rate increases, the suicide rate from insufficient pain management increases, illness simply from….insufficient pain management is on the rise yet, the DEA wants
more control. Dirty agents? Dirty politicians? Money making schemes? Ask M. McConnell about the heroin ( I believe it was) found on one of his wifes owned ships about 6 months ago or so that came from China and went to South America. Anyone punsihed? Hardly anything said about the “drug bust” at all and NOTHING said mainstream! Could it possibly be that if opioid medication is not available, the illicit drug money or suboxene market will profit more?


Good comments!


Here is the website you need to go to:


DEA these are my feelings, they are strong and should be, I don’t hold back, so DEA this is from me to you all. I have stage 4 cancer, triple negative breast cancer BRCA1 positive, 2nd go around fight..the most aggressive, deadliest breast cancer today! Alone the chemo and what it does is devastating. One of many is Taxotere, causing arthritis pain but I can not have any Nsaids “ibuprofen, aspirin, aleve, arthritis medicine etc” see I have a bleeding disorder called arteriovenous malformation or AVM therefor it deadly to take those. Also, since chemotherapy my liver enzymes remain elevated eliminating tylenol so what am I left with? Nothing!! Hydromorphone was a life saver gave me quality of life well for my condition. Now I am not saying many of the raids in FL were not warranted but they were overkill and you all left out to the public how many came from other states! You killed clinics, FDA cut supply and that led to armed robberies to pharmacies and families, mine being one when 2 males followed me from a Moffitt Cancer Hospital cased my home home are invaded it demanding any pain meds with a gun to my 13yr old head at the time! It would lead to pharmacies illegally price gouging then to heroin.. pain pills don’t lead to heroin the way you handled opiate pain pills left us with a heroin epidemic. I moved to GA and my cancer had returned, the doctor looked at me hemorrhaging in recurrence saying “you are pill seeking you are from the pill mill state” the stigma you all left FL with because it had been cleaned up and I left the state with a valid script, no failed drug test being denied any opiate in stage 4 cancer cold turkey pulled from dilaudid 8mg oh and migraine medicine, I was suicidal. The stigma and heroin epidemic, I have watched flood this country and it is sickening.. The worse creation, the DEA in 1972 by President Nixon, the War on Drugs has been the worse failed war in history! Take for example we are back at a all time low of of written pain pills “opiates” yet the highest opiate deaths in history…you took dirty doctors increasing dirty dealers/deaths?!! Marijuana class 1 alone..shame on you! Give the pain patients their opiates, implement “random drug test/pill counts!” just like color code! You all keep making heroin the new pain med not the pain pills! I say legalize medical marijuana and give back the opiates as mentioned because under hospice I still had to hear about the f*ckiing’s inhumane, I won’t die like that!

Joanne Thompson

I have been in chronic pain for 31 years. I have tried every therapy know to man and over 40 different medications and supplements. Going on a pain patch was the last resort. I also suffer from chronic migraines. For ten year I have had no changes or increases in my medication. I still have pain but it is bearable. Before this, trying my current medications I was beadridden. I never want to go back to that point ever again.


I have had back surgery about 6 times and still need more in the future. I have been taken norco and fentynl patches since before my first surgery in 2015. Now they want to take my pain medication away I really don’t know what to do. They have afford to put in a pain stimulater but it didn’t work. But now since they want to cut down my pain medication now they offered the pain pump. I don’t know I’m still thinking about it. I just hate that I’m being pushed to pick this pump. I was doing so good on my pain medication and was able to do little things around the house. Now that they keep cutting my meds I’m in bed more and can’t do much and more stressed.!!!!! Please don’t do this it’s effecting what ever little life I have!!!!!


Thanks Red. You are a shining light. I commented on the docket. Your hard work is truly appreciated.

There are several threads in the comments thus far.. I may not be able to satisfy all of concerns, but here are a few thoughts.

First, thanks for joining me in advocacy. I am trying to help and be thoughtful, regardless of the apparent foolishness we’re dealing with in the DEA and other government agencies which fail to understand opioid therapy. I’m also working on enlisting other medical professionals who were successful in moderating some of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid regulation changes just a week ago.

Second: my objective is and was to encourage you all to comment on the DEA docket, in your own words. The number of comments has jumped from 53 to 231 in two days. I hope we can get the numbers closer to a thousand.

Third: we can speculate endlessly about why DEA is doing what they are doing. There are probably many factors at work, some of which are insurance industry influence, and others having to do with empire building or misunderstanding. Government wants to “appear to be “doing something”, regardless of whether it’s the wrong thing. It’s human nature. Unfortunate but human. And there is a LOT of error making the rounds these days about opioids.

Fourth: mechanics. gets a fair amount of traffic. Sometimes it will go “off the air” for minutes at a time. So write out your comment first in a document on your own computer. Then copy and drop it “whole” in the comments window when you’re on the docket site and then fill in your contact data. That will reduce some of the problems (and swearing) of lost comments.

Fifth and last for tonight: for those who want to educate themselves on “realities” of prescription opioids, the Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain published another major white paper last night. “Principles for a Revised Opioid Prescription Guideline” It has gone to over 400 House and Senate healthcare legislative assistants and we’ll continue to push it in Social Media. Feel free to visit and download a copy. Take the copy with you when you visit your Senators and Representative district offices in your own states.

I’ll check in from time to time here. Keep those thoughts coming.


Thank you Dr. Lawyer,
I have CRPS and Parkinson’s and degenerative disc disease so dealing with extreme pain on a daily basis is challenging for me. Without my meds I couldn’t get out of bed and depend on others to do so. I’ve always been a fighter from day one and keep on doing so. Thank you for all your doing!!


I submitted my comments. All we know about addiction science clearly demonstrates addicts are born not made, so they.want to limit a xhronic pain patients access to.medications they need to live? Based on possibilty they may be a hidden addict gene? Ridiculous . Its like taking away someones life saving medications because a few people have sode effects . Addiction and dependency are 2 different things and through my 20 years on life saving opioids ive gone off meds several times and i never once felt like sticking a needle in my arm and although there were some affects.just stopping meds , the main effect was crippling pain , go.figure oh and not pain caused by.opioids , which is the latest thing they keep pushing, so coicidentaly the pain medications are causing the same pain that started me on pain meds . Ridiculous. I have benefited signifigantly from.long term.opioid treatment . This whole thing with opioid hysteria is and a crime against those who need these medications. Without these meds i am simply unable to go the more they take and cut the more my life becomes a bed . Sick of it . Tobacco and alcohol.kill.far more daily and yearly than opioids ever will .chronic pain patients protection act now


Left my comment, with my name displayed proudly.

Teresa Crisman


Thank you so much for this article and trying to get the word out . You won’t hear this any place else that I know of . Eliminating the medication at the pharmacy won’t put the pharmacy out of business or for that matter the people the DEA says they’re trying to stop and that is the addicted abuser from killing themselves. It will I’m sorry to say put the pain patient dependent on the medication out of business. Please everyone who can put your comments before May 5th. Thank you

Dear Dr. Lawhern,
Thank you so much for this most useful and helpful information. Also thank you for continuing to be a most relentless advocate for all chronic pain patients. I have submitted a heartfelt story on behalf of all of us to the DEA. I also told them that it takes a very large person to admit they’ve made a mistake. The CDC had to have much courage to admit they made theirs. I thanked them for what they do to help keep the illegal drugs off of our streets but implored them to please leave our lifesaving opioids alone. I told them of the suicides of chronic pain patients due to the lack of our life saving opioid medications as well as all of us losing our livelihood we once had before 2016. I felt it was more than important to leave all information in who they were speaking with, not to be anonymous. Also I invited them to read some of the stories and comments on the National pain report, that they were very eye-opening and heartbreaking as well. I will continue to pray to God that He will indeed intervene in this injustice and give us miracles. He is still in that business.
Ms. Terri James


If the DEA won’t listen to the non-prescribing physicians and medical workers, what hope do the patients have? We have voices but aren’t physicians or chemist. We are experts on the self - our painful selves - but are not being heard.

Please keep speaking up for us.

Tracy Bryan

It is plainly clear and has been since 2011, 2012 that the DEA and CDC want to replace dope with opioids. There are no clear studies that smoking dope or eatting CBD will decrease chronic pain. It more than likely will increase lung cancer, obesity, traffic fatalities, industrial accidents, and lazy kids. You need another source of tax monies and dope is your agent. Your studies are phoney and have hurt many people. Why don’t you take the time to talk to chronic pain patients, perhaps you just might learn about the lady that was hit by a car breaking multiple bones, multiple surgeries, or the grandmother with severe osteoporosis who can no longer get pain relief. Or the patients with leaden V factor who can only take tylenol for chronic pain. I feel you are doing the public in general a grave disservice and are hurting many people who do not abuse drugs but are able to be productive members of society . This will lead to many suicides, and disability claims. Please stop misleading the general public and perhaps stop the heroin and the fentynal and man made opioids from coming across the border. Who is paying you people off, what your doing makes no sense.
Thank you

Out of control. Big government and big Law Enforcement has gotten out of control.

What do they stand to gain ? Only the appearance that limiting production will somehow reduce the OD death rate AND make citizens sleep more soundly at night.


This letter is so well written and expresses the key issues. I would like to suggest that it becomes a petition and those of us who support it, sign it and submit it as a team effort. This is how the students at Parkland High School started the movement for change. There are millions of people suffering. We need to join together and create positive change.

Claudia Merandi

I need a link to share on the rally page

Heather V

Just sent mine!

I know you have to do this a lot so this time I would definitely keep your letter and a notepad if you have a hard time writing like me if for some reason someone’s having a difficult time I can also send you what I wrote and you can edit it as you need but we all have to send this so I hope everyone is working together to be sure that our opinions are in. Try not to rent and go on about how upset you are at Trident state facts and do you told reasons why limiting production will be bad for a country.

David W Cole

Thank you Ed!
All this misguided lunacy needs to stop, law enforcement needs to get out of Medicine, they say they want to save lives however they’re killing people.

Kris Aaron

“…to restrict supplies of scheduled drugs based on “diversion” can aptly be compared to an effort to reduce America’s “obesity epidemic” by reducing food supplies.”
Perfect analogy!
Here’s the problem: The DEA is mission-driven, just like the military. The individual agents and their local department have little discretion in which laws they enforce. Whatever choices they employ are based on the amount of (dreaded) paperwork balanced against the value of the arrest.
They target physicians who speak out against federal opiate restrictions, including physicians who write opiate prescriptions to chronic pain victims who in turn write to their lawmakers objecting to the feds’ heavy-handed tactics.
We’ve all heard about “asset confiscation” — individuals who are arrested on federal charges and then have their cars, boats, homes and bank accounts confiscated on the theory that the property “could be” the results of profitable illegal activities. I have no proof of this, but I have to wonder if physicians aren’t targeted in part based on the monetary value of the property they own. Once assets are confiscated, it’s very difficult to reclaim them, even if the arrested individual is later found innocent of all charges!
Another problem: Agents do not care about the suffering the physicians patients are going through. They truly Do Not Care. “Fulfilling and completing the mission” is all-important. Our suffering is as relevant to them asthe suffering of bombing victims in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan is important to an occupying army. All we are is collateral damage.They will not listen to a word we have to say or even hand us a Kleenex to wipe our tears. If we show up at their offices they will call security to escort us out, refusing to even spare us a glance.
“Bait dogs” get more sympathy from dogfighting organizers than we do from the DEA.
If someone they love is living with chronic pain, guess where their pain medication comes from? We all know the old trope about cops having the best drugs.
So, who will listen to us?
And guess who decides how much funding the DEA will receive? Read the previous sentence.
We need to write and call our lawmakers. We must visit them in their offices, even if it means dragging our damaged bodies through their doors. They need to hear from us and see us! We need to tell them our stories!!

Paula K

Instead of making it harder for people with legit pain and doctors who do their jobs correctly you need to go after the pill writers and the drug d dealers


I tried to send comments also but was unable. I am grateful for the letter sent by Dr. Lawhern. I do not believe the persons responsible for making these decisions on behalf of millions of us is educated in chronic pain treatment. I do not believe they have discussed these decisions with one Pain Management specialist or chronic pain patient. Place them in our shoes, I do not believe this would be considered. I do not believe this will stop the drug abuse, or stop the drugs from being here. It will only cause more problems. Just like the argument about guns. It’s not the gun it’s the user. Same goes for drug abuse, it’s not the drug it’s the user. More funding needs to be provided for the addicts. Better treatment centers and options need to be opened. More research in drug addiction needs to be done. Not limit this medication which will only hurt the people who need and use responsibly. Thank you.

Cynthia Gwin

I left my story and comment about the pending regulations this morning. I feel like David battling Goliath, but I don’t know what else to do. Hope to have similar results.


I’ve been listening to people quote statistics that are totally false just to justify their positions in life. I don’t know who has the final say about what amounts of opioids are safe for people as a whole but what I do know is that I have no say, no voice, which is insane. I have been taking 195 mg of oxycodone and oxycontin for almost 10 years with no issues, failed urine tests or any problems whatsoever. You might look at that and say “wow that is ridiculous “, see there’s the problem, the DEA is clumping us all together and telling us that we all can only take up to 90mg morphine equivalent. How is my chronic pain the same as everyone elses? We need varying levels of medication to treat individual situations. I have CRPS, arthritis in 90 % of my joints, I’ve broken my back twice, I’ve had 18 major surgeries on my legs, I have Raynauds syndrome, I’ve broken my hands 5 times, dislocated my shoulder 4 times, my elbow once, multiple broken wrists, Morton’s neuromas on each foot, plus numerous sprains, a quad tendon rupture and probably some injuries that I have forgotton. The DEA is saying that the amount of pain meds that prescribed for me should be the same as someone who has a bad back, not to diminish the pain of a bad back, I’m just trying to make a point. Here’s something else, I have a certain enzyme in my liver that metabolizes medication different than most people, where most people take an aspirin for pain, I would have to take 6 and they last half as long as a normal person. Because of the DEA guidelines that were sent to pain management doctors in the form of a threatening letter my doctor lowered my meds to 90 mgs of meds. Needless to say my life has been ruined, literally. I’m stuck on the couch with heat and/or ice packs on my joints. I truly can’t even function, it’s affected my family and the way we all interactef. When I was prescribed the correct amount of meds I was a high functioning member of society, there were very few activities I couldn’t participate in, I felt good, I had a lot of energy, I am retired and I used to be the guy who took care of the house inside and out, I cooked great dinners for my wife and I, my 11 year old grandson and I had fun and I watched him a lot. I could drone on even more but I think you get the idea. And obviously I’m not the only one in this situation. The DEA with their knee-jerk reactions to this so called opioid epidemic has ruined thousands, maybe millions of lives of legitimate pain patients.


I have had in excess of 35 orthopedic surgeries since I was 3 years old. I am 70 years old. It wasn’t until the mid nineties when I had to go on pain medication, and then and only then did I have to go on pain meds. I had used marijuana until the late 90’s. I never drove while I used cannabis. I suffered through each day until I got home. Then my PCP wanted me to stop using. So I stopped. Then I started on prescribed opiods. At first they helped but the side affects were almost as bad as the help with pain. It has taken me 15 years to finally, with the help of another PCP and a pain specialist to find my way through the mazed of drugs. I told the pain specialist, I will not take any drug that hasn’t been on the market for at least 20+ years, got to be cheap, and have to work when I need it. I guess she thought I saw living in a fantasy, but I found what I needed by sticking to my guns. I don’t take pain meds every day. I have a herniated vertebrae, buldging disc. I have an elbow replacement, knee replacement, rod in my femur, and had multiple surgeries to lengthen my tibia and femur. I had to have plastic surgery to replace the cartilage in my nose, a hysterectomy, and surgery to correct the hysterectomy hernia due to an MD’s stupidity. I have a Dropped foot that requires a special shoe elevation to correct the difference in the length of my legs. I could go on and on. However, I am still vertical and walking, sometimes like a duck. My point is that I would be in a wheelchair if I did not push through the pain and use my meds wisely. If you take them too often they dont work. The Dea should use some of their money to train Pain Specialists Medical Doctors. There should not be registered nurse practioners perscribing any type of pain medicine. I wont go to one of these to get my medications. We are all different and more than likely if we need pain meds we need an MD. NOT A RNP. That is one hole in the prescribing process. My personal feeling is the CRNA should not be recognized as a nurse specialist. If you are having surgery, you need MD an anethesiologist. I ask the DEA TO look at the structure of the prescribing process. Look at the entire history of the patient. I am one of the lucky people who can stop smoking, drinking, or stop smoking cannabis. I just stop. People need to use will power. Put you attention elsewhere.


Finally some truth on the matter. Thank you Red!

Lisa Brown

Thank you for publishing this. I have submitted a lengthy comment on their website advocating for the pain patients as I am one of those chronic pain patients.

DB Stewart

Cease, halt and desist the wat against chronic pain patients.

Mickie Williams

Chronic pain patients are closely monitored by thier doctors so abuse does not occur.Illegal drug abusers will still get thier fix you are only hurting the law abiding people and punishing them for chronic pain issues.It appears that the dea is failing at thier job of keeping illegal drugs out of our country and you are trying to save face by going after the medication that is monitered.Dea you are disgraceful


Another government administration who is going about their “fight” in an erroneous and egregious manner!

More about CONTROL and less about COMMON SENSE!



I did what I could I made my comment


I am a chronic pain patient. I suffer from chiari 1 malformation, syringomyelia, degenerative disc disease, cervical spinal stenosis, lumbar stenosis, fibromyalgia, occipital migraines, osteoarthritis, just to name a few. I have tried many methods of relief. With no avail. Opiates give me alittle of my life back. Let our doctors be doctors.


Again I say to the DA do your job and go after the doctors that are prescribing opiates to patients that do not need them they only accept cash so therefore they stay under the radar leave the manufacturer’s alone you do not have a license to practice medicine you did not go to school to be a doctor you have no right to try to tell the manufacturer’s how many they can manufacturer I thought we were still in the USA this is becoming a communist country every single day get the people that are breaking the law and leave the people alone that are doing the right thing I wish more people would stand up to you and shove your words down your throat