On December 10, a woman died from opioid withdrawal complications after the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) suspended her physician’s registration to prescribe controlled medications, Pain News Network reports. She is the second patient to die in connection with the DEA’s suspension.

The woman, a 42-year-old mother, lived with several rare disorders, including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), arachnoiditis, stenosis, and other chronic conditions that cause severe pain. In 2020, she had moved from Hawaii to the mainland U.S. with her family to find treatment. In a statement to the DEA, she had recently written, “without [my doctor’s] care and prescribed medication, I would be bedbound, unable to walk, unable to function, and certainly unable to care for my children.” After the DEA suspended her physician’s registration, she was unable to find another health care provider willing to treat her, ultimately leading to severe, uncontrolled pain and opioid withdrawal.

Her physician had practiced medicine in California for over 50 years with no record of disciplinary action or complaints filed with the state medical board. The reason for the suspension is still not known. The DEA has no authority to practice or regulate medicine, yet the agency’s actions regularly impede on the provider-patient relationship. CUSP’s policy position is that questions surrounding medical need and patient care must first be assessed by licensing boards, not law enforcement.
Read the full Pain News Network story here.