Getting Relief in Wartime: Opioids, Pain Management, and the War on Drugs

In her second guest post for Points, pain relief activist Siobhan Reynolds looks at the ways in which drug war hysteria has warped public and political perceptions of pain management prescribing practices.  

On April 20, the FDA, the DEA and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, along with a host of other federal agencies, announced the rolling out of REMS, or “Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy,” a new federal policy that purports to confront what these agencies call the “epidemic” of prescription opioid abuse. Among REMS’ proposed solutions to the problem is physician education by DEA agents– federal law enforcement officers

"Does this clarify things for you?"

with no medical training. Alongside the REMs announcement, of course, came a propaganda campaign justifying the action: articles in newspapers, magazines, law journals and even medical outlets that decried the sharp rise in overdose deaths that have resulted, the government claims, from doctors’ increased prescription of opioids over the past several years.  There’s only one problem with all the hype: the data upon which such frightening claims are made is wholly unreliable.

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