Chronic Pain and Prescription Drug Classification

If you’re reading this blog, you probably have chronic pain or know someone with chronic pain. The reality of being a chronic pain sufferer is that the medication available to ease your pain is also a medication that is being used and abused by folks who do not have a pain issue; sadly, they just want to get high.

To that end, Monday October 6th, 2014, the DEA imposed new rules and new classification to these medicines necessary for chronic pain. Rather than being able to have one (1) refill on those medicines and then having a doctor fax the new prescription request to the pharmacy, I must now make a doctor appointment for each refill.

So, every month a chronic pain suffer must go and physically sit with their doctor while said doctor writes a new prescription, makes a photo copy of the patients Driver’s License and proves to the government that they are who they are. After that ordeal, the sufferer can go to their pharmacy and be interrogated, now by the pharmacist, as to why they might need a prescription for the prescription being brought to be filled. This must be done during a work day, which means they must take time off work every month to go to a needless doctor appointment to determine if they “really need” a drug that they’ve been using and need to help cope with pain while they work. What a complete waste of time and money, not to mention that the added stress will likely increase the pain the body produces.

There will be folks who will say that these new rules will cut down on illegal usages of prescribed drugs. To that, I say bullshit. I’ve been googling (I know, right?), and have found many, many articles. The article that was most poignant is a study from Harvard that correlates Gun Laws versus Violent crime. The study suggests that the addition of more stringent gun laws do not reduce violent crime. To that, we could correlate that similar thought to “Drug laws do not reduce drug crime”. In layman’s terms, the laws are to keep the honest people honest.

I’ll bet that there are hundreds of thousands of chronic pain sufferers in the USA right now, a majority of which are honest, hardworking people. According to ABC News, 1/3 of Americans in the USA suffer from chronic pain and are largely failed by their health care professional (See also this article from the institute of medicine). So, if we’re going by the numbers of the last decade, there are roughly 300 million people in the US right now and 1/3 of that 300 million is 100 million people. Just to be extravagant, let’s extrapolate and say that all of those people need to be on one of those newly reclassified medicines. Further, let’s say that the average doctor visit for each of those people is $60, or $6 Billion dollars a month to the medical industry. That’s not counting the money lost from U.S. businesses due to time of to visit the doctor. No, let’s say each of those 100, 000, 000 folks takes 4 hours a month off work to trot to their doctor to prove that, yes, they do have chronic pain that requires prescription drugs so that they can be their usual self, a contributing member of society. For those whom are math challenged, that’s a total of 400,000,000 hours for one month in lost work production. If all of those employees make $20.00 an hour, that a loss of $8,000,000,000, or $8 Billion dollars in lost wages every single month. Those numbers are already astonishing, but to really take your breath away, multiply those values by 12 as remember, those values are for One Month only. If you think I’m just making up wild numbers, look at that article from the Institute of Medicine. The numbers they’re quoting higher, far higher numbers: $635 Billion dollars each year in medical treatment and lost wages.


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