Is COVID-19 Impacting Chronic Pain Care?

Is COVID-19 Impacting Chronic Pain Care?

Is the COVID-19 public health emergency negatively impacting the supply of pain medication.

In a word—yes.

The U.S. is rapidly expanding ventilator production—which is important. Remember that to use ventilators—sedatives and pain medications and others are needed. That’s hurting supply.

This NPR story discusses it in some depth.

It is also on the radar of medical and advocacy groups as read her in the

This issue caught the attention of pain patient advocate Richard “Red” Lawhern, PhD who told his network that it’s time to do something about the DEA.

“Due to draconian and unjustified DEA restrictions on production, injectable as well as oral prescription opioids were in shortage well before the Corona Virus pandemic. We’ve seen reports of patients deferring needed surgeries and hospice residents being denied pain treatment in stage 4 cancer. And all for nothing.

“Published data of the US CDC itself demonstrates beyond any reasonable argument that America’s opioid crisis wasn’t created by either prescribed or diverted prescription opioids. Prescribing rates in seniors over age 62 are three to six times higher than in youth under age 19. Yet overdose related mortality in youth is six times higher than in seniors. One cannot possibly get that result from prescribing practice. You can’t get there from here.

“It is high time that DEA is disbanded or severely downscaled. The failed war on drugs has become a war against people in pain and their doctors. Doctors are being persecuted out of practice, often by extra-legal intimidation and unfounded threats.”

The National Pain Report has been asking its readers to comment on their experiences in accessing their doctors and their prescription since the COVID-19 public health emergency has exploded since early March.

Is anyone finding their pharmacies are running short of supply?

Let us know.

Stay safe.

Subscribe to our blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Authored by: Ed Coghlan

newest oldest
Notify of

In a word, yes. The only medication that actually manages my pain adequately (without miserable side effects) became unavailable in March. After about 10 days, an amazingly devoted pharmacist found me some, but in a different strength and administration format, for a cost of $250/week. (Hasn’t been covered by insurance for years.) Probably too expensive even for hospitals to purchase.


I am worried about this because I am in a situation where I need several drugs in order to feel normal throughout the day. I have multiple chronic pains that have been inherited by me and I hope that people will somehow help me out of the situation, there are simply no medicines for me. And this is very bad, even how I will feel without drugs, I already forgot what pain is and these drugs have been selected for my body for years ..


Finally the Pain Clinic in my area has reopened after closing for over a month and I was called and brought in for treatment. Thank God!
The safely that is in place has been widened from the last time I was in. Now when you arrive, like before your driver must remain in the vehicle, you Must wear a mask to enter and you are asked if you have any signs of illness, come in contact with any person who has been ill, traveled, if you’ve traveled in or out of the country or county, your temperature is taken & you are given a paper with the temperature on it to hand off to nurse before taken to the back for treatment. All personnel are outfitted in full gear from head to toe.
I was So Thankful for this Reopening! As long as the virus continues to flatten out in the area they will be able to keep their doors open and said that is why they felt it was safe to do so at this time.
As for now I’m scheduled for a Long awaited neck procedure which is designed to prolong the need for my standard injections from every 12 weeks to 6 months or more. So Thankful! That’s one thing off my plate. I will however still be going in every 12 weeks for my Lumbar injections, sure wish there was something else that could extend the length of those injections but again I’m thankful for what they have found for my cervical treatment and I’ll be happy for that relief to come. 20 years of waiting for something to make a difference and it’s finally here.

Leslie Meadows

My clinic is doing tele-med right in the parking lot at your schedule appt. The nurse brings out your prescriptions to the car. They are not allowing patients inside to get cortisone trigger injections. So for me those are 50% of my pain treatment. At least the clinic is open,right?

Deborah L Molitor

The Clinic I was going to cut me off for two reasons.. First.. I can’t have the injection due to Chiari Malformation and second cuz I can’t drop due to them closing for this Pandemic. WOW. Now I am in sooo much Pain that I am trying to sleep as much as possible but we all know how hard that is. I really don’t know what to do ? I uploaded my scans and if anyone wants to see them PLEASE email me at.. ….. I’m at the end of my rope. I first had Spedo Tumor Cebri and now CM and herniated disks. Severe Stenosis. Scoliosis. Spondylousis ex ex . does anyone have a clue on a Hospital that could help in the Detroit area? Please help before I can’t take it no more. Stay safe everyone as far as for me it might not be a bad thing?
My Heart goes out to all the Families that have been affected. When this is all over most People can return to LIFE. us Chronic pain patients Live in isolation due to Pain taking EVERYTHING away from us even our Souls.

Alan Edwards

I was told my pain appointment was canceled and a doctor would call supposedly because of Government safety concerns. Then the Doctor’s office chewed me out for not being bodily at the appointment but filled my tylenol (norco 7.5) script after talking to me by phone.
The staff has been spouting false data for years and has filled me with steroidal intrathecal injections and toradol. Toradol efficacy is low and short-lived.

The phaemacy claims pain meds are scarce except for certain people. The DEA has directed the pharmacy to place police vehicles around CVS. They have followed me often after a pharmacist and I argued over opioids, amitriptyline and benzodiazepines. CVS is a DEA and police hangout.
They created the drug war and interfere with research. The DEA and police are now the largest gang in the USA. They have the guns and have killed many innocents. But few news organizations report any police violence or harassment against”f lowly citizens.

Gail Honadle

EVEN though Memphis is a fair size city it lacks Telemedicine. Luckly my Neuroligist understands has a nurse on duty and will call my Valium in to the pharmacy. Don’t know about Gastro, bowels have nearly stopped working, means surgery, no pain meds, no surgery I’ve been that route years ago, I puke without Phegan. Can’t take any OTC PAIN MEDS.

Maureen M.

I have yet to have any problem with my current pain management nor my meds…but I don’t see my doc until the end of this month. I will still have to see him in his office though, as I did 2 weeks ago (which greatly concerned me since I am high risk). He is not doing the Telehealth thing. Also I get a written script soooo that mean 2 trips to the pharmacy to drop it off then pick it up 2 days later. ugh!
I am concerned about getting my next Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) refill for my Systemic Lupus though since this is the med they are considering using for the COVID virus.
Keep strong and keep safe Warriors!

Sherrie Stone

I havent had any problems yet other than my pain dr wont give me anymore than a 30 day supply ,im immune compromised i dont want to go out any more than i have to ,its making me a nervous wreck wondering if my prescription will be available when i do go then having to worry if im.getting exposed,i dont understand how they tell you to have 60 to 90 days of all your meds but if its a controlled substance thats different ,its not like your getting extra medicine your just picking it up early SO YOU DONT HAVE TO GO OUT numerous times ,you wouldnt be taking any extra because if you did than you wouldnt have any for the next month im.certainly not doing that to myself ,


I couldn’t agree with this more! As a senior with chronic pain from an accident, I am now being forced to taper from a level I have 100% successfully used for at least 5 years! My pain doctor has made it clear that this is because of the government. This is interfering with my quality of life but the government doesn’t care about a patient like me.

What infuriates me further is the fact that the stats being used by the government to justify this include heroin overdoses. I don’t believe there are any doctors prescribing heroin for their patients. I also believe there is a high proportions of overdose deaths that are heroin based. I believe the government includes these heroin deaths to give more substance to their decisions but it is not fair to patients like myself! Don’t get me wrong, any overdose death is tragic but let’s be honest with why our prescribed medications are being reduced.

YES I have definitely ran into this ! I moved to South Carolina almost a year ago from Ohio and have been forced off of a VERY needed medication. My entire spine is fused and I have spinal fixation rods and a prosthetic hip. I can barely get around anymore and have taken up drinking some liquor and I can’t stand the stuff! Something needs to be done for us chronic pain patients immediately. No one should have to suffer like we are.

Elizabeth Rogers

So far my pharmacy seems to have adequate supplies of the mild opiate I take, but I don’t know about the availability of stronger medications. I certainly agree that the DEA needs to be de-fanged and sidelined. They’ve done way too much damage already. Unfortunately, our “Dear Leader’s” pronouncement at the start of a recent Coronavirus Press Briefing that-yes, in the midst of a worldwide medical catastrophe!-he had ordered major drug interdictions at sea. This big announcement certainly did NOTHING to inspire my confidence. How totally off-subject and tone deaf, to say the very least.

This deplorable man must be removed from office on November 20th!

Steve Bratcher

My pain doctor usually gives me 2 prescriptions so that I only have to come back every 2 months. But this last visit she said that she would see me back in a month because she was afraid there might be a shortage on my medicine.


I supposed to have two other surgeries. And possibly redo on hip surgery mess up but afraid. So that would be 3 surgeries put off. Each surgery about 45,000 to 50,000 based on last surgery last year charges. So that’s 150,000 dollars economy for medical care is losing on lowered pain medication for surgery. They are losing money and they don’t even realize people are not going into surgery unless it prevent death. How much money do they want to lose over inadequate pain care. My hate for what their doing will keep me from surgery. I don’t need to suffer more like I did and now more pain from doctor mistakes and not caring to fix his mistake. I hope they lose money big time.


A friend of mine peggy was in a assisted living nursing home it started over a fall for physical therapy to nursing home kept lowering her pain meds to causing her to have multiple heart attacks every time nursing home lowered pain meds heart attack would follow. She also had anxiety before she went in and that also was lower along with her pain meds. It was sad to see her life that was active before she intered nursing home to each hear attack to vegetable to dead. I blame the DEA for her death. I have put off surgery because my surgery last year I wasn’t given enough pain meds to endure physical therapy or to sleep. I had failed surgery & my hip hurts worse now than before surgery. I have to live with additional pain and I already live in chronic pain with no pain meds, I never failed urine test. All bc I question the doctor about errors in paperwork. I now ? How much longer my faith will keep me here. Covid 19 might be my savior.


My case is a little different. I’m uninsured so I’ve been paying cash rate to see my pain management doctor. That rate is $101 per visit. In addition he wants me to pay on the balance that was left over from what my insurance didn’t pay last year. That balance right now is around $1500. I fully understand that I owe this money and normally I would be happy to pay as I’ve been doing every month I’ve seen him. However, jobs and incomes have all been lost. My income has always relied on support payments from my ex who has lost his job. I tried explaining all this to the receptionist, but they were unwilling to make an exception. I asked to be seen (this was to be a telehealth appointment, but still full price) and pay when the stimulus check came. That was a hard no. Being uninsured and living in a rural area means I dont have a choice in who I see for pain management. It’s this dr or no dr. So I was abruptly discontinued from my medication. I feel like I’m on death’s doorstep and absolutely nobody cares, especially not my dr.

Thomas Wayne Kidd

My pain doctor (?) Is still insisting that I keep my appointment in person. These people are insane. Our Governor is telling doctors not to do these things. Yes the DEA needs to be disbanded completely. But unfortunately a worse thing will no doubt take it’s place.

Rochelle Estes

I feared this would happen. The lawmakers are so hell bent on decreasing Opioids and have drastically cut back on the supply. A world crisis happens and we have major drug shortages. Out of all the bad that is happening, I hope this opens up their eyes! Americans are dying because of the CDC, DEA and so on. They should all be fired!!!


After several request for telemedicine prior to my appointment, my pmp demanded I be physically seen. When I arrived the waiting room was full. I was demanded to do a UA & if I refused NO medications would be prescribed. I asked if the bathroom had been used before me only to given the response of “oh yes it has been used by people coming & going all day long.” I asked if it could be cleaned, all that was used was a can of Lysol. What was more horrifying was the person handling the specimen cups wore NO gloves. Not only did my pmp used bad judgment by not only possibly exposing myself to COVID-19 but my 72yr old mother that I live with as well. Just so my pmp can send my regular 30day supply prescription electronically of which does not treat my pain adequately. In fact, as with many chronic pain patients, my pmp not only does not treat my pain adequately & is being under treated. For those currently being prescribed opioids/controlled substances in my state are expected to be grateful for what little medications are being prescribed whether it is adequate or not.

L Metts

We all agree but can anyone provide willing qualified attorneys eager to file suits against the DEA. Also we need Insight into the specifics, example sample verbiage on how or the best grounds to file a civil rights violation case against the DEA. Law suites law suites and more law suites appears to be the only way to make change in this system.
Otherwise nothing changes

Robert Martens

EVERY month the cycle builds from relief and a thank you to the Lord that the process from doctor to pharmacy has gone well and then slowly the anxiety builds over the coming weeks, wondering if I will be so fortunate next time.
This past month was hellish having to rapidly taper off prednisone or face a near certain severe infection if exposed. My pain levels and inflammation have reached levels only felt during the worst of times previously but heaven forbid my doctor increase opioid dosage for just a month or two ! (Btw my conditions treated are severe multilevel lumbar disc degeneration with modic 2 along with an autoimmune condition consisting of inflammatory arthritis / chronic tendonitis )
SO to answer the question, I have to call the pharmacy a few days ahead of each refill to be safe and this was the first time in 7 months they had to order oxycodone 30 mg IR. -The pharmacist had an unusual tone of uncertainty. -Next month ?


So far no drug shortages in San Diego area, but I am in the process of moving to Missouri. That scares me, having to find new docs who will work with me.
Some things have changed for the better, the dea will now let your doc send electronic scripts and you actually get to talk to your doc over the phone. There is even talk of 90 day prescriptions during this national emergency for schedule 2 & 3 drugs.
Maybe, just maybe this could lead to a little more compassion in our country. Just by getting rid of the current asshole pretending to govern would improve things.I would strongly suggest all cpp’s Register to vote by mail or absentee ballot, and vote blue across the board for the party of compassion.

Bev Rein

I’m not happy at all. My doctor is cutting me off completely. I suffer with chronic pain and have been for over 20 years. I have several health issues and have even participated in pain clinics. Which haven’t helped. So the only thing that has been helping me are the opioids, at a low dosage. 10 mg in the morning and 5mg at night. I’ve tried all other meds that are on the market, and nothing has helped. Her excuses are really starting to piss me off. I’m 55 years old and all I know is pain 24/7. I have also tried any type of therapy known out there. So now not only am I in pain all day every day but I am now depressed and suffer with anxiety. I feel like the system is failing me. Any suggestions


Yep, they screwed us all up! Unbelievable!

James McCay

It figures… 1st the CDC/DEA tried to get ALL Long Term (avg. age 50+) Chronic Intractable Pain patients OFF all opioids (we all had to have thought that was the underlying conspiracy of the CDC all along), why? I have no clue & we’ll likely never know. Yet now all of OUR drugs are going to be given to Vent. patients as THE PRIORITY. Again why? Most Chronic Intractable Long Term Pain patients are in FAR MORE pain than ventilator patients will be, but we’ve been blanket IGNORED by the entire medical establishment.for years now. So what’s a few more thousand suicide deaths OF US (to the powers that be) since the previous many thousands of suicides were mostly ignored?
Pain patients who were just stripped of their long term opioids from one day to the next; due to “GUIDELINES” done by a family physician & psychologist (neither of who were “Opioid Experts” in any way) was just DUMB! All the needless suicides basically were swept under the rug, no matter whose attention we brought these FACTS to!

WE ARE THE LEPERS OF THE 21ST CENTURY! That’s what we’ve been reduced to by MASS IGNORANCE!

I can’t fight anymore, it was killing me being LIED to at every turn. So every month I saved up as many pills as I could (it took over a year to get a month worth; thanks to my opioid lowered levels). So as soon as they cut off my opioid & benzo, I’m going to PARTY like I’ve never partied in my whole life. Then on Day 30, I take my Potassium Chloride injection.

It’s nice to have a plan that’s TOTALLY UNDER MY CONTROL since my non-stop excruciating widespread pain started in 2001. Thanks to my DEADBEAT father who caused me to be born with (3) Severe Neuromuscular Diseases (starting with now Advanced Myasthenia Gravis with an XL Thymus gland that’s been HYPERACTIVE since childhood) because he was too lazy & undereducated to get a “real job” so he joined the Marines during the Korean War at Camp LeJeune, NC with their poisoned water (that rewired my DNA).

Bram Judy Cast

So far, I’ve had no problem.
I’m in New Mexico.