Drug Cops and Doctors: Is the DEA Hampering the Treatment of Chronic Pain?

September 9, 2005 9:00AM

The Drug Enforcement Administration has embarked on an aggressive plan to eradicate the illegal “diversion” of certain prescription painkillers. The DEA says the plan is necessary due to increasing abuse of prescription drugs, particularly by youth. Additionally, the agency has teamed up with state and local officials for the campaign. The DEA typically employs law enforcement methods developed in the War on Drugs, including aggressive undercover investigation, asset forfeiture, and informers.

Critics contend that the DEA’s anti-diversion campaign has focused too narrowly on doctors, exacerbating the already widespread problem of untreated or under-treated pain. Well-meaning doctors are finding themselves subject to costly, potentially career-ending investigations, critics say.Several doctors have been sent to prison. The DEA maintains that its investigations and prosecutions are necessary to stave off a wave of prescription drug abuse, that only criminal doctors are being targeted, and that its efforts to prevent diversion should have no effect on the legitimate treatment of pain.

Join the Cato Institute for a half-day conference looking at the DEA’s efforts to eradicate prescription painkiller diversion and what effects these efforts are having on doctors, patients, and the treatment of pain.

Conference Schedule

8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Registration

9:00 - 11:00 a.m. Panel I: Pain, Diversion, and Public Policy

Drew Edmondson
Attorney General of Oklahoma, former president, National Association of Attorneys General

Myra Christopher
President, Center for Practical Bioethics

Ronald T. Libby
Professor of Political Science, University of North Florida, Author of the Cato Institute study, “Treating Doctors as Drug Dealers: The DEA’s War on Prescription Painkillers”

Richard Payne, M.D.
Director, Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life, Board Member, American Pain Foundation

11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Panel II: Doctors and Patients Speak Out

Siobhan Reynolds
President, Pain Relief Network

Frank Fisher, M.D.
Exonerated of murder and diversion accusations

Eli D. Stutsman
Attorney at law

Dr. Linda Paey
Wife of Richard Paey, pain patient currently serving a 25-year sentence in Florida

1:00 - 1:30 p.m. Luncheon