Calif. approach on pain medication good for doctors and law enforcement

LETTER — Posted Oct. 11, 2004

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Regarding "California law eases threat to pain medication prescribers" (Article, Sept. 13): I am a retired DEA diversion investigator now employed by Buzzeo/PDMA, a consulting firm for DEA registrants and other professionals. I held many positions during my DEA career, although all of them were in the field of diversion control, which includes physician oversight.

I have said many times I felt like I spent half of my time trying to "lock up" the "bad docs" and half of my time "hand-holding" with the "good docs." It is a complicated field, and physicians (and pharmacists) deserve respect and admiration for working through the many difficult health care situations involving these abused and sought-after controlled substances.

I can say unequivocally that California's proposed legislation is a positive initiative for physicians and law enforcement alike.

I was pleased to see [the sidebar to the same story in] AMNews contained a reference to the DEA's partnership with the University of Wisconsin Pain & Policy Studies Group and Last Acts, a palliative care advocacy group. The booklet, "Prescription Pain Medications: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Health Care Professionals and Law Enforcement Personnel," was designed to offer balanced and well-informed information in the same collaborative spirit envisioned by California's new legislation.

I was part of the DEA team that developed the so-called "FAQs" for the booklet, and although the physician/law enforcement paradigms were periodically a little different, it was not difficult to reach consensus. The important thing was to get out a product that could help or protect honest and well-intentioned physicians while educating the affected parties and stakeholders on the needs and procedures for effective law enforcement.

Robert Williamson, Richmond, Va.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/10/11/edlt1011.htm.

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