Opioid Shortage Worsens, Production to Increase, Will it Matter?

Opioid Shortage Worsens, Production to Increase, Will it Matter?

As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health emergency has deepened, the National Pain Report has reported on the shortage of pain medication. The DEA -led crackdown on opioid production is having an unintended consequence during the coronavirus crisis: Many of these same drugs are essential for people on ventilators, and now there’s a shortage.

The shortage is so bad that the DEA last week that it was going to allow an increase in production quotas of pain medication. Here’s our story on it.

The “non-chronic pain” media (I guess there is such a thing) has been picking up the story.

Here’s a story that Politico ran on the topic, entitled “America’s new opioid crisis.”

It’s a good read. Suggest you read it and leave a comment with Politico.

One of the chronic pain community’s eloquent people weighed in on Twitter.

One of our readers, Georgia Carroll wrote to the National Pain Report about the DEA decision to increase production and openly wondered whether it would make any difference.

“Supply increase does nothing for chronic sufferers who can’t get any doctor write the prescription,” she wrote. “I advocate for 500 legitimate abandoned patients who have not been able to get opiates for 5 months and no help is in sight.”

We have been asking our readers about how access to their physicians has been since the COVID-19 crisis started. We were especially curious about physicians who use telemedicine and patients report it’s been a mixed bag—some were happier with the situation saying that they actually had their prescriptions increased and others were having a hard time getting any satisfaction.

Chronic Pain Advocate Terri Lewis, Ph.D. has been monitoring the situation and is find that many doctors are still requiring pain patients to come it.

“Members of the pain physician community: If you are insisting that patients drive to your office for visits and prescriptions, as opposed to using telemed, you are abusing them, your staff & families, and your professional obligation to protect the public during this pandemic,” she wrote on Twitter.

Let us know how you are doing—is access to your physician or provider better or worse? If it’s better, tell us why. If it’s not, share with us.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Alabama Pain Management is doing the initial visit by telemed. However, the patients still have to go in and give a urine sample in order to get their prescriptions! So basically the doctor is the only one being protected, not the patients! Of course they are a part of Cypress Health, associated with Assurance Labs which has been doing Covid19 testing from the beginning!!

In fact, I am experiencing big problems with this. As a sufferer of depression and panic attacks at the moment, I am obliged not to harm myself and my relatives to take medicines that will end in a couple of days and what should I do? Close yourself in the garage and pray to the Lord that I was not covered again ?? I really hope that people on top will understand this and somehow react in the near future, people suffer without their medicines.

At this point as has been the last four years you die from not having enough not sddiction. We have real dieseases not do it for fun…


Biggest issue is illegally gotten fentanyl and opiates, so why are the real patients paying for there misuse & abuse? Oh, but wait, the drug abusers get Naloxone along with pain meds because they’re know for od’ing from their overuse of pain meds. Yet the DEA, CDC and government are more concerned about folks who are truly dealing with chronic medical issues and pain. They’re wasting their funds on the wrong people. It’s irresponsible and unfathomable what is happening to chronic pain patients in the US today. And to still make those who could honestly use telemed appts at this point in time is just wrong in so many ways. We are not the abusers here, why haven’t they figured this out yet?
And Thomas Kidd, I hope you find the strength to stay course and not let this do you in. There has to be help out there for us!


Had virtual Dr. visit last week on my computer. He sends script electronically to pharmacy. He’s a good guy, no changes, no problems. Reading these posts I feel blessed.

Toni Hardy

One day chronic pain patients will be so sick and tired of being mistreated that they will go nuts and end up doing something really bad to doctors or pharmacy staff. Watch it will happen!! You will hear in the news that a cancer patient or chronic pain patients ended up going full on kill mode and take out their doctor or pharmacist. I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet, but it will. It’s so sad to see doctors, pharmacist and the government making people suffer, making people die and even commit suicide.These people and lots of other people don’t care until they become chronic pain suffers themselves or have a family member or child who is. I pray to God to make things better, I pray every single day for hope for compassion.


Seriously I believe it’s time to start praying to The Father for his Son, our Lord & Saviour’s return and get us off this rotting corpse of a planet. The corruption is so thick, it’s difficult to see the light.

God bless us all!


Why have we not heard from PROP, Mr. Kolodny should be concerned that each of these Covid-19 patients will instantly become addicted.
I hate to feel this way, but CCP’s should be first priority. Some of us have had the painful symptoms of Covid-19 every moment of everyday for years!


Thomas Wayne Kidd,
I will donate the first $100 towards your defense fund.

They don’t work? They do work? To “everyone” involved in this nasty little opioid Injustice, you’re now caught up in your own tangled web of lies. I’ve got news for you, they do work and no I don’t have the corona virus, as of yet anyway. For whatever reason you pulled the plug on so many millions of lives four years ago, it’s all coming back to bite you in the rear end. Evil follows evil as said so eloquently by Mr. Thomas Kidd.
My niece has an appointment for a physical mind you and it’s telemed. Really? What are they going to do, ask her how she feels? I go every few months to see my doctor and as of now I’m still going in person. My appointment is yet to come. Me and my little girl have self distanced from the world as we’ve been told. I have to keep telling myself to have faith. God knew this was coming and He is most definitely still in charge. Perhaps he’s trying to tell the world something?? As Miss Ellen puts it, be kind to one another, pandemic or not. I say stop the greed, the lies, the selfishness. Unfortunately this is something no pill can fix or even help. Makes me wonder if there were though, who could have it, who could not.

Thomas Wayne Kidd

I have tried to contact my representatives but I have only been ignored. If I loose my cool so be it. I am so damned tired of this insanity. If I knock my pain doctor (?) Out I will probably be arrested. These insane cowards deserve what ever happens to them.

Thomas Wayne Kidd

My doctor (?) Is requiring that I come in for an appointment. He will probably cut my medication. I am about at the end of my rope. My natural instinct to survive could kick in and my doctor might find himself laying on the floor. I have been mistreated way to long. I am praying that I can keep my cool.

Melinda Tarnow

I had to drive 50 miles to my PM. Go to the pharmacy, only to be told they were 1 day early and would not refill, so I had to go 50 more miles the next day, again. I live in a small town where 2 major chain drug stores will not fill any scripts that are over 90mm or extended release. I will have to do so again this week.


A friend of mine who lives in another state said she just recently went to pain management clinic and she has autoimmune disease plus recently torn her leg tendon went thru PT, didn’t help. She also has multiple pain issues. Then seen P.M which he wanted to do surgery on her back. I advice her not to do unless she lost bladder control or couldn’t walk. He offered her stroid shots after that no pain meds. She on nsaids but has bad kidneys which I told her that’s not good to be on nsaids. She said her doctor knows. Both doctors know how kidneys are said for her not to drink only water. But I guess they thought their treatment shouldn’t be considered not to take. My friend said when she asked about the NSAIDs or stroids make her kidneys worse they said just have to monitor it. So business is more important than her survival rate.


Some doctors of different practices are still having patients come in but have sign says if you have fever don’t come in go to ER. I myself was told I needed to make appt for update allergy shots, had to go in for stroid shot was in 9 pain from nerve damage in hip & foot & sciatic. Doctors are still in. We the chronic pain people have prejudicely because we need opiates to help with pain. We are treated as enemy of the law and now on segregation list at the pharmacies & treated prejudices by medical community as opiate dependent. Enormous amounts Abandoned by medical community left to withdrawal by themselves no more that it can cause death. All to curb addiction death when in fact it has caused more bc chronic pain people instead going thru high price urine test ect or being abandoned by their doctors are now treating themselves w/o supervision/guidelines of their doctors. The treatment is racist . Has this saved anyone but just money for insurance co.
Now more are dying of covid 19 bc racist control gone wrong. Now covid 19 will take people in chronic pain & unpained. The virus is not racist , nor is chronic pain can happen to anyone.

Kelli Cantrell

Tired of folks with chronic pain not getting relief. One more way to punish us. Tired so tired of being in pain and no one caring. What’s the use. No one is helping. No one

Debbie Nickels Heck, MD

My Dr, who is a Direct Primary Care physician, has done telecare visits LONG before the pandemic because he’s known that was a sensible way to practice. It saves both HIS time & that of his patients by not having to drive to the office & wait if he’s running behind because he takes whatever time is needed with his patients. I did online services for patients and my office in the early 2000s before it was technically permitted when I was on vacation to stay in touch and not have to hand them off to other Drs. I saved one young man from a misdiagnosis of an idiot cardiologist and I got him to a more reputable one who got him into surgery the next day for a triple bypass by maintaining contact with my office daily and then with my patient online. Skype has now come along.

Tom Cuddy

My wife is going to be able to do televisit when she sees her specialist later this month. Her MD is great and is being intelligent here too

Robert Alba

This is in reference to PMD’s not allowing remote appointments. I have that issue with mine. They are refusing to provide this service. They have stated they are taking every necessary precaution. By wiping down surfaces and only allowing one patient in the exam room area at a time. While they may believe that these protocols are effective basically they are a waste of time. It is now known that airborne dispersal of the virus can remain suspended in the air for several hours so wiping down anything is an effort in futility. AS 99% of my doctor’s patients are high risk this action is placing all of them in potential danger as well as the staff and the general public plus the fact that my appointment is scheduled for the time od projected contagion peak. This has nothing to do with what the doctors are claiming, this is being done once again out of fear of the DEA coming down on them and relying on outdated information. Even before the emergency order was put into place once an initial consultation is performed may physician can do remote consultation is certain criteria are met, namely the distance between the patient and the provider. I know someone yhat had to drive 800 miles last week to get their prescription filed becasue his doctor is a coward. Mine has also stated that they are not set up to provide this alternative, apparently, there is no phone in the office, no one had a cell phone, a computer with a camera on it or an I pad. I have already spoken with a representative of our DHHS, they stated they can force the doctors to comply, but at this point doing so will most likely push back my appointment. Once that appoinment has been kept and the script is at hand there will be hell to pay. Also, these doctors are no longer required to have any type of appointment what so ever as emergence scripts can be written. There is possibly one legitimate excuse for this behavior and that is if the doctor can’t write e-scripts.


The DEA didn’t accomplish anything except [edit] hundreds of thousands of people that have true chronic pain, they turned many people who have chronic pain into heroin addicts. Is a useless division of the Government if you ask me. The FDA should oversee the opioid manufacturing and the amounts ajd guidelines and let the DEA work on people snuggling cocaine into the USA.
Now look what they have done, thr fentanyl needed for anesthesia is in shortage as well probably propofol! They need to get their [edit] together and fire all of the executives making decisions and if some adult wants to eat Percocet 30mgs until the end of time, let then. They are adults. You can get a gallon of vodka and drink it in your home so why cant you get oxycodone or fentanyl and do the same.
They have done nothing but make matters worse. That is my opinion, but it is reflected by over a million chronic pain patients.
I wish they would stop what they are doing. I have had many surgeries and had been prescribed methadone 40mg a day split, but I couldnt fill it anywhere. I took it as prescribed every day. Never diverted it, but because I couldnt fill it, I had to go to a methadone clinic and act Like I was am addict to get the medication. That is truly screwed up if you ask me. I finally got my surgery and went off the methadone after many years, but still have foot pain from a crushed foot in a work related accident. I have to ruin my kidneys and liver taking Tylenol like candy because doctors won’t prescribe hydrocodone (Vicodin) because it is now a schedule 2 narcotic.
I am Just feeling bad for those with COVID19 that need to stay intabated, and the Drs are running out of anesthesia medicines. Doesn’t surprise me. DEA, heh what a joke agency. Unprofessional know it all’s.
Oxycontin was the problem and now it is supposedly fixed (doesn’t work as you need 60mg to get 20mg in your blood), but now that it is not crushable the problem is solved. Why stop manufacturing of the other medications?

Stephen Vasko

The DEA knew exactly what it would cause and they didn’t care one bit.

Maureen M.

I don’t see my Pain doc until next week. They are NOT doing telemed but…I’v heard that they are having patients sit in their car while taking their vitals, fill out your form, ask you questions and then wait…until a nurse calls you in, one at a time, to see the doc in the hallway. Apparently they will now ‘fax’ your script in (1st time ever there). They usually still hand it to you. I suppose this is to help keep you from having to go to the pharmacy 2x…drop it off then pick it up.
Will see how it goes by the time I get there…

Cindy too

I wrote a long comment to the Politico article — pointing out that CPP’s face drug shortages every day; shortages that are deliberate and govt caused, but in the end, not getting what we need, which is the same; and hoping that this situation will create empathy for CPP’s and our docs.
But after all my work, it turns out you have to be on FB to post. And I’m not.
It would have been nice if Politico made that clear first.


I’m really happy that the telemed is happening, most days it’s really hard for me to just get out of bed. My doctor does however still want me to come in for urine test.

Is it true that most 85% deaths from opiods are from Tramadol?

Rosalind Rivera

Access to my greatly reduced pain meds is ridiculous. I have about a 45 minute drive only to have my greatly decreased pain meds dosages prescriptions passed to me through a small crack in an open door by one of the staff at my doctor’s office. I’m 67 with multiple immune disorders, a level 9+ on al 1-10 scale of pain and still having to go through this even during this terribly dangerous Corona Virus crisis! I am getting only a 1 month supply of meds which means that every 4 weeks against my better judgement as well as the government’s, I am continuously having to re-expose myself even with the so obvious threat to my poor health and to my very survival.

I have not had any problems with getting my prescriptions, my first telemedicine visit was last week. I kept the conversation at minimum. No change. I use a pharmacy that specializes in pain meds. They are $10.00 higher in pricing. But honestly worth it. No looks, no glares, no smart comments.
I know it can be different. Brand name pharmacy always would give me a problem so I just don’t use them for opioids. Nerve meds are fine. Will see next month if anything changed


Its the good that came out of the bad…maybe now ??…everyone will see…what we have seen n known now for yrs…Government ..get out of healthcare..DEA go back to tryin to control illegal drugs ..n..not life saving medicines for all Americans..I can only hope n pray….that many eyes will b opened…n..people will have to answer for this..those life saving medications were never the problem..it was only…n..always the street drugs..I have seen alot of finger pointing about ventilators but not hearing to much about the meds yet..im thinkin ..that wld b …bc its thier faults….the government….Stay safe n God Bless everyone..

DB Stewart

I when 10 days ago. In and out record time, sub 5 minutes. None of us seem comfortable.
Why is it we have to go every 30 days?

Alanna Wilgus

I am a very lucky lady so far. As a disabled health professional myself, I have been seeing the same pain doctor for 14 years. She is compassionate and caring and very capable. After a bout with forced tapering (which was a nightmare), she switched me to Suboxone about a year and a half ago. It gives me excellent pain relief and can be
“e scribed”. I was greatly relieved that I was able to have a telemed appointment with my physician on Thursday rather than sittingin a crowded waiting room for hours. The pharmacy I use keeps my the medication in stock for me and it was filled within two days. I can live my life for 30 more days. I am so blessed.

Megan Posa

Here in Detroit that has the 3rd highest coronavirus numbers in the US, if I want my prescriptions(1 narcotic and 1 non narcotic) I’m required to go INTO the hospital where my doctor’s office is located to pick up paper scripts. Even though I’ve been receiving emails from both the hospital where the drs office is located and from my insurance company approving and recommending telemedicine. I don’t get it? The government wants us all to “stay home and stay safe”, just one more way to punish pain patients for needing medication that is essential for our survival.

Claudia Webber

A few questions, “Do you feel absolutely justified in your (DEA) Ignorance yet? Did a cut of 54% in opioids reduce OD? The answer is a resounding NO! Why? because “overprescribing” whatever that means to the DEA, has zero effect on addiction/mortality and never has! As a well known author often says, “You can’t get there, from here”! Perhaps you will now consider a total relax on the production of opiates, allowing even the government stockpile to catch up, as well as, the hospitals who so desperately need them due to THIS PANDEMIC, (note the emphasis) as it WILL NOT BE THE LAST! OPIATES do and will play a major role in illness and all the adjunct issues surrounding illness! For the love of God, please STOP THE INSANITY of placing restriction on quotas…it’s just not your place! You have overstepped your authority! Leave these decisions to the proper agencies, FDA! Enough is enough!

Why are they giving opioids to people whose breathing is compromised and on ventilators? They preach that opioids can slow your breathing significantly. Seems like a huge risk to me

Bram Judy Cast

My primary has been writing my prescriptions. My pain management oversees her.