Should some doctors be restricted from prescribing narcotic pain medications?

The FDA is about to get serious on inappropriate prescribing of narcotic pain medications.

What exactly they’re going to do is unclear, but as reported in the NY Times, it “will result in further restrictions on the prescribing, dispensing and distribution of extended-release opioids like OxyContin, fentanyl patches, methadone tablets and some morphine tablets.”

Part of the problem is that some patients who present with musculoskeletal injuries or sprains are inappropriately given a fentanyl patch or Oxycontin.

However, there is also a problem at the other end of the spectrum, where some doctors do not want to deal with the issues surrounding chronic narcotic use, and simply won’t prescribe any narcotics, or refer every pain patient to a pain management specialist.

I suspect that if these doctors were somehow restricted from prescribing narcotics, there would be a sense of relief, now with a built-in excuse for refusing a patient request for Oxycontin.

Duncan Cross comments from a patient perspective, and sees two outcomes: “If this helps ensure that patients who need these drugs – and only those patients – get them, then it’s a good thing. If like every other federal initiative on the issue, this has a chilling effect on physicians’ willingness to prescribe narcotics, then it’s a bad thing.”

I agree with his take, and indeed, the upcoming restrictions will likely result in the latter scenario.