First, do no harm

Some call ours a “nanny” society. Those who do so, most often derisively, often point toward the many laws which may have good intentions but either should not be statutory or are just plain silly. Sometimes these well-intentioned actions result in adverse consequences.

This is mentioned because of my belief that a bill headed toward passage in the Texas Legislature was introduced with hopes of preventing problems with supposed addicting prescription medication such as Soma, Xanax or Lortab. These drugs form a so-called “pain cocktail” given to patients by some pain management specialists.

A number of pain clinics, which local law enforcement officers claim have popped up recently in Southeast Texas, apparently have exclusively given the aforementioned pain cocktail drugs to patients who may be “doctor shopping.” That term, for those who might not know or are too wasted to remember, refers to the practice of patients seeking different physicians so that they may easily be written prescriptions for the pain cocktail and other drugs such as Oxycontin. Authorities had alleged that such a practice had been used by Rush Limbaugh for his Oxycontin addiction but found a lack of evidence and the great windbag got a plea bargain.

Some pharmacists in Southeast Texas have refused to fill new prescriptions for patients who use what they see as essentially pain pill mills. Pharmacists say they are taking a hit moneywise in order to prevent addiction and practices by some addicts such as armed robbery or burglary to get their meds. The Texas Medical Board is also cracking down on some of the doctors who run some of the alleged pill mills.

Those affected pharmacists in Southeast Texas, along with area law enforcement, thought legislation was required to curb what they see as widespread pill-shopping from running rampant.

Luckily for them, the Texas Legislature just happens to be meeting these days in Austin. So, a bill was introduced by area lawmakers, state Sen. Tommy Williams and Rep. Mike Hamilton, both Republicans, that would tighten up the prescription drug laws. Under the law, doctors would be required to report so-called “Schedule III” drugs such as Xanax and Soma, to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The DPS would monitor the patterns of such prescriptions and who knows where that will go.

While this bill may have been introduced with good intentions, I can’t help but wonder if it will produce unintended consequences which might harm a lot of people.

As one who suffers from chronic pain, I think the situation already exists which make getting which drugs one needs (pardon my English) a pain in the ass.

My medication is the highly-addictive and tightly-controlled methadone. I must go to a doctor once a month to get my prescription refilled. There is no calling the doc to phone in a prescription if I run short. Of course, I go to the Department of Veterans Affairs for treatment where getting a doctor to call you back or call in a medication is almost an impossibility as it is.

If I wasn’t treated by the VA, I wonder how much someone like myself with no insurance would pay for a doctor’s visit each month and prescriptions? Or, would I even be able to get the pain meds that I need?

Yes, it is an inconvenience and it is one I tolerate because it’s necessary to obtain the drugs I need. But you have doctors who refuse to prescribe some of these drugs because they are so addictive and pharmacists who won’t fill them because they might get robbed or sued if one of their drug-addled customers OD. And, it certainly seems that such situations combined with stricter laws — no matter how well-meant — could ultimately lead to some people not getting the medicine they need to function and live a productive life. Also, it is impossible to know what the DPS might pull out of their hat. Will the state police tell us when and when not we may get our pain medication? Tell me Nurse Ratched?

This bill will probably pass as legislators like to pass bills whenever restricting drug use is an issue. But as we all know, just because it is a law does not equate with its goodness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *