Federal Government Increasing Opioid Scrutiny

Federal Government Increasing Opioid Scrutiny

bigstock-Painkillers-97670The U.S. Health and Human Services(HHS) has announced it is expanding its role in reducing prescription opioid and heroin related overdose, death and dependence.

This follows the action of another federal agency,  the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) last October that reclassified all FDA-approved products containing hydrocodone as Schedule II control substances. Since then, prescribers have been required to write a new prescription for each 30 day supply of a hydrocodone combination product rather than authorizing refills.

The HHS claims it will focus on three priority areas:

  1. Providing training and educational resources, including updated prescriber guidelines, to assist health professionals in making informed prescribing decisionsand address the over-prescribing of opioids.
  2. Increasing use of naloxone, as well as continuing to support the development and distribution of the life-saving drug, to help reduce the number of deaths associated with prescription opioid and heroin overdose.
  3. Expanding the use of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), a comprehensive way to address the needs of individuals that combines the use of medication with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders.

“Opioid drug abuse is a devastating epidemic facing our nation. I have seen firsthand, in my home state of West Virginia, a state struggling with this very real crisis, the impact of opioid addiction. That’s why I’m taking a targeted approach to tackling this issue focused on prevention, treatment and intervention,” said Secretary Sylvia Burwell.  “I also know we can’t do this alone. We need all stakeholders to come together to fight the opioid epidemic.”

The government’s emphasis on prescription opioids in has resulted in frustration by pain patients and some providers who believe that access to medication is being reduced.

The National Pain Report published two stories in the last week about a survey that showed pain patients feel they are being unfairly targeted by the federal government. The survey, conducted by the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association was presented at the 31st annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine in National Harbor, Maryland. Here’s our story on the survey.

Some of the highlights of that survey were:

  • Patient Perspective:A majority of patients (52%) expressed an increased sense of stigma about being a pain patient
  • Patient Withdrawal:Patients noted experiencing withdrawal due to the regulation change, 15% because of the difficultly in seeing their HCP
  • Patient Challenges: 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

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: ” 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.”

What do you think of this latest announcement from HHS?


Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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I think that in areas that obviously have a problem all doctors and patients in that area should should be put under a microscope and doctors not prescribing in the usual course of a ligament medical practice and running for profit pillmills be put in jail just like any other drug dealer along with patients selling prescription medications they are the ones that cause problems for legit chronic pain suffers and good caring compassionate doctors that are trying to help legit chronic pain suffers by feeding sick peoples addictions and the addicts should be treated for there substance abuse disorder with the most proven effective treatment BUT it should not effect the entire country where the problem is not so prevalent so as not to effect people who are not doing anything wrong because of a MAJOR problem in certain areas is that what the DEA is SUPPOSED to do and states governed mental health treatment facilities SUPPOSED to do because just jail for addicts doesn’t work we need to stop jailing the mentally ill now im not saying they should not have to pay for crimes committed to feed an addiction we all have choices and some of those choices are hurting others

John Schoenradt

I am retired military, and all they want is for us to die off. Methadone is what they give out, which is another name for heron. I just want pain relief I am treated as if I am out there on the corner selling my mess. I just stay home and wish to be left alone. There is no quality of life, my grand children won’t come around.. Guess I can’t blame them. I am no crook but I am treated as one. God Bless All.

Emily Ullrich

Once again, chronic pain patients are being criminalized. Street drug use and legitimate pain medicine use ARE NOT THE SAME THING! I am tired of the government, media, and even some health care organizations grouping these two VERY different things together. In addition, those same organizations (which grately influence the way our society thinks, votes, and perceives one another) are grouping “addicts” and “pain patients” together, implying that they are the same thing. As a chronic pain patient, and Ambassador for the US Pain Foundation, I know firsthand how harmful this careless usage of malicious language is on patients, doctors, society, the stigma that pain patients already endure, and the already strained doctor-patient relationships.

I am grateful for the few remaining doctors (like those who have commented above) who understand that patients are suffering, and instead of more policing, we need more empathy and quality pain treatment. It is already more difficult than anyone who has not endured it to imagine what living with chronic pain is like. We should be able to admit that we have pain, and we need help! Instead, our own families, friends, government, and most importantly, doctors too often turn their backs on us. Separation of medicine and politics/government is essential, and it seems to be snowballing out of control, in the opposite direction.

Additionally, addiction is a disease, and people with addiction problems deserve adequate and respectful treatment. We MUST stop shaming each other and seeing the disease of pain as a weakness. There is no difference in a person who needs blood pressure medicine to function properly, and one who needs pain medicine to function properly. Until we acknowledge these FACTS, we will continue to perpetuate undue suffering and unnecessary stereotyping-neither of which are in ANY way providing healthcare or promoting health and growth in our society, our medical system, our lives, and the lives of the most fragile citizens, who need these things the most.


Who are the stakeholders in pain treatment? The doctor and the patient. But in America, it is the criminal who is driving the train. Pain patients are treated like criminals, while criminals who claim a legitimate prescription caused “addiction” leading to bad, even criminal, behavior are never questioned about such claims.

Criminals who consume prescription drugs can go blather to the media about how “addicted” they are, and how they have no control over their bad behavior. Not only do they not face the horrors that actual pain patients face if unable to get prescriptions (since for criminals prescriptions are only one optional way to get drugs), but they often get benefits for claiming to be “addicted” - getting another chance from fed-up loved ones, employers, schools, parole officers, courts, not to mention shorter jail terms, or cushier incarceration in “treatment facilities”.

Meanwhile pain patients have reason to fear going public because then criminals would be alerted to a home containing a stash, and because of the always-lurking fear that they will end up in a situation where doctors will refuse to treat their pain at all.

Since their stories support the memes about the “dangers” of drugs, the criminals are treated like brave heroes for telling their stories. Meanwhile, actual pain patients are human sacrifices in the war on drugs.

P.S. it’s not always the doctor’s choice about whether to write a prescription, some “health” systems/businesses force doctors to sign contracts that forbid them to prescribe certain drug/strengths.


Thats so on the mark-a 30 day of supply of drugs-drug testing for levels-how do we contribute? we dont its all manufactured in other countries-in mass quantity


Jerry Hawkins, you need to see a Pain Management Dr. They are more flexible in the pain meds they rx that PCP are now days. If someone suffers from chronic pain, the FDA recommends Extended Release pain meds. There is also an Extended Release Hydrocodone, Zohydro. Zohydro don’t contain any tylenol. It came out in March 2014. Since it is so new some insurance companies won’t cover it and the ones that do require Prior Authorization. But, it may be worth you looking into.

Any dr can write a patient 3-30 days rx for a Schedule II med, according to Federal Law. It is your a drs choice is they don’t do this.


As a chronic pain patient who has to struggle every day just to get out of bed and try to be a productive member of society, I find it infuriating that the government has decided to come between my doctor and myself. I hate having to go every month, pick up my prescription from my doc, and then “try” and get it filled. Have you tried to get a prescription for oxycodone or Fentanyl or even Morphine filled recently? I’m pretty sure they treat jail inmates with more respect. Just locating a pharmacy that has enough in stock to fill my prescription is often a full-day’s ordeal. Sometimes two days. And when you’re already in pain, having to drive around town and hobble into pharmacy after pharmacy after pharmacy is exhausting! Once you locate a pharmacy that actually has your medication in stock, then you go through a security screening made to demoralize and humiliate you. I just think perhaps the government is going after the wrong people. I don’t do illegal drugs and would have no idea how to go about obtaining any, but I suspect that these new, more stringent laws and guidelines the government agencies have instituted have done little to impact their supply. It’s getting ugly out there for us chronic pain patients. I just don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to keep this up.


Well people,,I took the time to graze thru the h.h.s. documents,,not good people,,Here is what I saw;,,if your 45-54,,”your at the top of thier targets,,furthermore,again and again,,they comparre our MEDICINES in the same category as herion,,The government truly believes,our medicines are terrible drugs,,they believe via this document,,that painmanagement is abuse of our medicines,nothing else,,they believe that continuing to destroy our right to privacy,via ,prescription drug monitor program,,this is helping them gain their proof,,that are medicines’ are the same as heroin,,they believe painmanagement w/opiates is a ,”disorder”,,Every sentence in this h.h.s. document demonizes our medicines,an us,and our doctors,,,Heres what is not in this document,,mentions NOTHING about humane treatment of all chronic pain suffers,,,mentions Nothing about the use of opiates working for pain management,,,This H.H.S,,document is aweful,its more cruelties’ ontop of the ones they have already perpetrated onto us,,,No-where in this document is there 1 word of ,”good” about us,and our medicines,,,they never refer to our MEDICINES as medicines,,,always referring to our medicines as drugs next to herion,,,U know what is amazing to me besides there complete lack of knowledge about being in physical pain,,it there shear lack of humanity towards us,,,this is the salem of 1698 people,,except instead of witches,,its chronic pain suffers,,CHRONIC PAIN SUFFERS ARE THE NEW 1698 WITCHES,THE DOCTORS,THE MEDICINE WE NEED,,ARE BEING HUNTED,KILLED,AND FORCED TO SUFFER IN PAIN!!THIS IS ‘OUR” GOVERNMENTS PLAN ONTO US,, read it yourself if u don’t believe me,,,if THEY ARE NOT EDUCATED AND,STOPPED,,, they will kill us all,,if not by actual death,but by cruel inhumane suffering,,I am afraid Dr,Ibsen is 100 % correct,,they want opiate pain management gone,and they will lie, falsify documents,#’s,,anything,,to make opiates go exstinct,and they don’t give a dam about us,,,chronic pain is a disorder to them,thus no real pain involved,,not a physical medical condition,,,thus chronic pain is not medically necessary for the use of opiates,,we all just have disorders now,,,soo get ready for more cruel inhumane forced suffering people,,,,if we choose not to stop them,,,we have obviously let them goo to far already,,,2 wars,,the middle class/working class being forced to work longer ,harder to feed their families,,and they think because there are more of us due to harder working conditions,2 wars,,,baby boomers getting older,,they don’t stop and think it really is that simple,,”its an epidemic”,there are just more conditions caste upon us that have caused our bodies to collapse, our backs to literally break,,literally thus the higher amount of medicines being allocated/used,,,,it is that simple,,,,but if they admitted to this,,working conditions being poor,low wages forcing baby boomers to work 2ce as hard,,thus their bodies are saying ,’no,” our backs are literally breaking,,,they would have to admit this is their fault,,2 wars,,People we better stand up for ourselves like yesterday,,,the future of pain management will be burned at the stake,,,The government does not see us as pain management human beings,,they see pain management people,all of us,,as drug abusers, drug addictes,and drug dealers,,,,not as medically necessary to be treated w/medicines,,,they see our medicines in the same category as terrible street drugs like… Read more »

I happen to be one of the unfortunate Chronic Pain patients who is suffering because of the tyrannical behavior of this Government and their henchmen. My Pcp has cut my dosage and will not allow me to pick meds up 1 or 2 days early any longer which means I wake up in the morning and have to go to the Doc. and pharmacy all in the same day while at the same time driving farther. This is nothing more than more government control and the effects of the new health care act, which is a joke.


Crazy. Some of us over 60 need these meds just to survive day to day and also have problems getting out every month to see doctors. I realize some people are going to abuse drugs but it really is hurting those of us who don’t abuse them bad.

Mark Ibsen

Another government agency, the Institute of Medicine calls for a balanced approach to the treatment of Pain.
The true epidemic is in Pain.
While prescription drug overdoses have increased, it’s more related to access, which has increased as pain treatments have improved. We don’t restrict sale of alcohol, cars, planes, cigarettes, all of which cause some deaths. We must separate law enforcement from medical care.

Brenda Trudy Myers RN

I think its a load of crap! I have suffered from pain for many many years. I have had back surgery and neck surgery I have a spine ate up with arthritis, I have peripheral vascular issues that cause severe pain. They want us to go to a counselor/behavior so “we can learn how to live with our suffering” how cruel can they get?? I have tried everything and the only thing that WORKS IS OPIOID MEDS!!! I dont need to talk to a counselor I need drugs to calm the pain down. These 3 priority areas they talk about-are rediculous-they talk about guidelines for providers-basically the DEA wants to tell doctors how to torture their pain patients. I hope and pray that we can all write to our government, and to the DEA and flood them with mail about how we all feel

Barbara Walker

Just more politics on a cause that has is caused by dodgy Doctors and dodgy Patients. The true pain patient suffers and nobody cares. This entire issue goes deeper than just prescriptions, a majority of chronic pain patients who are totally disabled are basically living in poverty, they make a perfect target for drug dealers and some familial drug users. But we will never confront the aspect of financially desperate patients. That would take the incentive of selling meds out of the mix, it so much easier to go at it this way.


This isn’t anything new and it isn’t law or required. Even though some drs tell their patients it is .


Their not going to stop until we are all dead,,or in prison,,,we need to stop them people,,,,,please I beg of u sign the formal complaint to the U.N..it should be arriving soon,if not there already,,the email to add your name,,to stop our government from killing us or imprisoning us is,CP@ohchr.org,,,they have no clue what there doing,,nor do they care,,others before us went to Washington,actual chronic pain patients,,voted at 90% not to change our laws concerning our medicines,,they didn;’t listen to the very people this is effecting,,they don’t care if we die,or get put in prison,,this is a all out” WITCH HUNT,”just like the innocent ladies of 1698 died cruel torturous deaths at the burning of the stake ,,we are/will also,,,people always die when a Nations government gets a ,”true witch hunt,” going,,,we need to fight people,,or more will die,suffer,or end up in prison,,,paita

Doc Anonymous

Here is a link to the USA Today article. Note also that a large fentanyl seizure in 2014 in California was also linked to a Mexican drug Cartel and not to legitimate pain patients.


Doc Anonymous

Here we go again with the blame the victim. I was just reading that the DEA was warning about the dangers of heroin laced with fentanyl that is now showing up on the streets. I believe the article was in USA Today. It went on to describe a similar epidemic back in 2007. At that time the source of the heroin AND the fentanyl was traced to……(Are you ready for this one, Think it is pain patients?)…….a laboratory in MEXICO. The truth is a far cry from the myths perpetrated by the DEA, HHS, FDA and the major news media. The truth is that pain patients are not the cause of the heroin misery. They are the victims. So too are the real addicts whose treatment is foregone because the effort is on vilifying the pain patient.