On November 7th, 2022, a man with chronic pain was found dead in his home after the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) suspended his physician’s registration to prescribe opioids, leaving the patient to suffer without necessary pain medication. The patient, a 69-year-old who had severe intractable pain for over two decades, died by suicide with his wife.
The suspended physician, who has practiced medicine in California for 53 years, has no record of disciplinary action or complaints filed with the state medical board. The suspension was imposed without warning or articulated reason. Some of the physician’s patients resorted to travelling far distances for his treatment because local doctors were unwilling to treat their pain out of fear they might be targeted by the DEA for prescribing opioids.
The DEA has no authority to practice or regulate medicine, yet the agency’s actions regularly impede on the doctor-patient relationship. CUSP policy position is that questions surrounding medical need and patient care must be assessed by licensing boards, not law enforcement.
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