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Pain Medication Bill

Pain Medication Bill

Looks like Congress will pass a bill that makes it clear that physicians can prescribe pain medication for terminally ill patients, including those with cancer, without running afoul of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA has charge of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which says that physicians can prescribe narcotics only for “legitimate medical purposes.” Under current law, in a case where a patient dies in what appears to be an assisted suicide, the DEA can conduct an investigation and revoke the physician’s CSA registration if he or she is found to have prescribed federally controlled substances as part of an assisted suicide, in 49 of 50 states. Often the State Medical Boards are the first to act in these situations.

The House and Senate bills (H.R. 2260/S. 1272) give physicians wide berth to use narcotics for the aggressive treatment of pain and suffering, even if the use of these drugs has the unintended effect of increasing the risk of death. In October, the House passed H.R. 2260, which has been endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA). Yank Coble, MD, secretary-treasurer of the AMA, says the two bills provide “a new and important statutory protection for physicians prescribing controlled substances for pain....”

 
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