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U.S. Government Makes it Easier to Get Highly Addictive Painkillers

The Drug Enforcement Administration has proposed a rule that would allow patients to get a 90-day supply of powerful narcotic painkillers, such as OxyContin, or hyperactivity drugs such as Ritalin. Because the drugs are highly addictive and prone to abuse, they were previously only available in a one-month supply.

The prescriptions cannot be refilled without a visit to the doctor's office, but to get around the rule, doctors would prescribe a three-month supply for patients with chronic conditions, then instruct pharmacists to dispense only 30 days' worth at a time. Because the narcotics are Schedule II drugs -- the most highly regulated -- doctors have been cautious about prescribing them. The rule is supposed to make it easier for doctors to prescribe the potent drugs to patients with chronic pain, but is this really helping them?

Patients with chronic pain spend about $1,300 a year or more on painkillers like OxyContin, and more than 2 million patients abused such drugs for the first time in 2004, which sets them up for an even lengthier list of problems than the one they originally intended to treat. If chronic pain is an issue for you, dealing with emotional factors, reducing or eliminating your intake of sugar (and grains), along with finding a qualified professional to address any structural issues,  are all very simple strategies that can have a profound influence on pain.

USA Today September 5, 2006