The problem was exacerbated when the media began reporting that the popular narcotic pain medication OxyContin was finding its way to the black market for illicit drugs, resulting in an outbreak of related crime, overdoses, and deaths. Though many of those reports proved to be exaggerated or unfounded, critics in Congress and the Department of Justice scolded the U.S.Drug Enforcement Administration for the alleged pervasiveness of OxyContin abuse.
The DEA responded with an aggressive plan to eradicate the illegal use or “diversion” of OxyContin. The plan uses familiar law enforcemet methods from the War on Drugs, such as aggressive undercover investigation, asset forfeiture, and informers. The DEA’s painkiller campaign has cast a chill over the doctor‐patient candor necessary for successful treatment. It has resulted in the pursuit and prosecution of well‐meaning doctors. It has also scared many doctors out of pain management altogether, and likely persuaded others not to enter it, thus worsening the already widespread problem of underrated untreated chronic pain.