My sister called yesterday with news that people with severe pain in Colorado are having difficulty getting oxycodone. The DEA limits what can be produced and how much is made available, and too many people have filled prescriptions, some abusing the drug by doctor shopping. While I have no doubt and in fact know that people abuse prescription pain pills, this leaves patients with intractable pain--those with cancer, severe spine issues and pain syndromes--in a bind.
Many physicians are understandably reluctant to prescribe such medicines to those who need them because the DEA has wrongly targeted doctors or legitimate prescriptions, tending to assume pain patients are in general addicts. Obviously drug abuse means that some people are getting prescriptions who don't need them but there are also pain patients who have difficulty getting adequate pain control. Perhaps liars are more convincing storytellers or actors than people with true pain.
For those who don't know, there is a database available to all pharmacies that can flag multiple prescriptions from different physicians and help prevent narcotics abuse and reselling of the drug on the street. Of course any such database can lead to some false accusations, as when my rheumatologist turned over my pain management to my surgeon for a week (not oxycodone). Can those who change doctors also be wrongly accused when the refill comes from a different doctor?
In the meantime, people with legitimate needs suffer because of others' abuse and because of quotas on drugs that may not be high enough. Supposedly suppliers have not informed the DEA that a higher quota is needed; but people are unable to fill their prescriptions and the DEA is aware of this.