DEA and Pain Docs Release Collaborative FAQ

Answers to important questions about treating pain

Prescription Pain Meds FAQ

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has released a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to provide answers to important questions about treating pain patients while recognizing and addressing problems associated with the diversion and abuse of prescription pain medications.

Prescription Pain Medications: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Health Care Professionals, and Law Enforcement Personnel, is intended for primary care clinicians and law enforcement officers so both can better understand the treatment of pain, and the law enforcement and regulatory efforts to prevent prescription pain medications from being diverted and becoming a source of harm or abuse.

"We have two serious societal problems - the undertreatment of pain, and drug abuse and diversion - that are intertwined through prescription pain medications. We address both problems in this document, and hope it will bring some clarity to the issue," said Russell Portenoy, M.D., Chairman, Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care, Beth Israel Medical Center, and lead pain expert on the project.

In a media briefing statement, David E. Joranson, MSSW, Senior Scientist, Director, Pain & Policy Studies Group, University of Wisconsin, Madison Medical School, commented:

 

"...The medical and regulatory environment for pain management is worsening: We already knew that for years physicians have been concerned about being investigated if they prescribed controlled substances, but now we hear that doctors are becoming even less willing to prescribe, because they fear the profession-ending high-profile arrests that they are hearing more about...

We already knew that some patients were wary of using pain medications, but now we hear that patients can't find a physician who will prescribe opioids, or are being cut back or dropped entirely... In some ways, pain management has become a crime story rather than a health care story."

    The FAQs include 30 questions and answers and key definitions.

    Some questions relate to risk assessment, how opioid treatment works, patient behavior, abuse, addiction, rules and laws, and clear descriptions of how and why the DEA may prosecute a clinician.

    Under the tenth question, there's a section of "Dos" and "Don'ts" for patients:

    • Do talk to the doctor and other health care professionals involved in your pain care about the pain; keep notes and write down questions to ask about the pain.
    • Do talk to the doctor if the medication is not working.
    • Do talk to the doctor if there are problems with side effects.
    • Do talk to the pharmacist openly about this therapy if he or she could potentially help with information about the pain or the management of side effects.
    • Do keep the medications in a safe place and out of children's reach.
    • Do look for another physician, or request referral to a specialist, if the pain is not taken seriously.
    • Do use the medication only as it is prescribed and handle the therapy with a high level of responsibility.
    • Do notify the physician if you are planning to become pregnant or are already pregnant.
    • Don't allow others to use the prescription medication; the patient is the only person who is legally permitted to have the prescribed opioids.

    There is a statement about patients' rights and a list of what patients should know. Hopefully, this will lead to better doctor/patient communication and patient education. However, if you have questions, and your doctor doesn't offer information, don't hesitate to ask questions. If your doctor won't answer questions, you need a new doctor.

    By itself, Prescription Pain Medications: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Health Care Professionals, and Law Enforcement Personnel can't solve all the problems. However, it can be key to accomplishing the goal of adequate and compassionate treatment all patients. Please copy it to your computers so you can print it out, read it, and provide copies to your doctors or others you feel could benefit from reading it. Here are links for your use. You can click to open and read or right click to save them to your computer.

    • FAQ in PDF format
    • FAQ in Word format

    NOTE: The DEA removed the FAQ from their web site on October 6, 2004, and requested that the University of Wisconsin Pain & Policy Studies Group remove it from theirs as well. Since this document was posted on a governmental web site, with no notice of copyright or exception, I consider it to be a document that was released into the public domain. Therefore, it remains on this site. For more information on this situation, click HERE.

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    References:

    Press Release: U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and The Pain and Policy Studies Group. "Consensus Document on the Use and Abuse of Prescription Pain Medications." August 11, 2004.

    Prescription Pain Medications: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Health Care Professionals, and Law Enforcement Personnel.

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    References:

    Press Release: U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and The Pain and Policy Studies Group. "Consensus Document on the Use and Abuse of Prescription Pain Medications." August 11, 2004.

    Prescription Pain Medications: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Health Care Professionals, and Law Enforcement Personnel.

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