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Elizabeth Hartney, PhD

Painkiller Crackdown in New York ERs

By January 12, 2013

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In an effort to curb medication abuse, New York City is cutting back on some of the most addictive painkillers in emergency rooms.  According to the New York Times...

... long acting painkillers, including OxyContin, Fentanyl and methadone, will no longer be dispensed, while other addictive painkillers, such as Vicodin and Percocet, will only be available in limited quantities. In addition, when prescriptions go astray, they will no longer be refilled.

It might make sense to limit the supply of drugs that can be abused, and there is no doubt that prescription drug abuse is on the rise. But what about legitimate pain patients, who already have to put up with being treated like drug addicts?

The problem is that, superficially, there is no way to tell whether someone is in pain or not. So they are restricting drugs for everyone. At some point, the medical establishment will realize that forming real relationships with patients, and using professional judgement in writing them appropriate prescriptions based on actually knowing the person sitting in front of you, is the only way to really help people who are in pain while circumventing abuse of the system.

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