The war against the production, distribution and sale of prescription pain medication continues to grow, even though overdose deaths from these same drugs are in decline. Doctors that regulate the amount of pain meds dispensed to patients are now afraid to prescribe for fear of retribution from law enforcement. Patients that need pain medication, meanwhile, are finding it increasingly difficult to find doctors that will provide them with the drugs that they need.
It has been proven many times over that when the government gets involved in an endeavor like this, the end result is not the anticipated result. Prohibition was a failure, providing new ways for organized crime to make money, poison people and circumvent the U.S. tax system. The end result was a large-scale loss of law enforcement lives, increased corruption and a surge in demand for bootlegged alcohol that people went through illegal sources to acquire.
More than 50 million adults in the United States suffer from chronic pain and an additional 19.6 million are plagued by high impact chronic pain. My wife suffers from rheumatoid arthritis that causes severe high impact pain and without having reasonable pain medication available as prescribed by her physician, she would be in continuous agony. While limiting initial opioid prescriptions to new patients may be an effective approach to prevent addiction from occurring, applying these same policies to patients on long-term pain management plans will do more harm than good.
For the first time since 1990 there has been nationwide drop in drug overdose deaths. During that same period, however, fentanyl deaths have increased. Why? While law enforcement has been dedicating resources and manpower toward other aspects of the opioid crisis, the smuggling of illicit substances into the United States by drug cartels has accelerated. These illegal drugs are manufactured in China, disguised as legitimate medicines and are causing our addiction rate to go up. Law enforcement resources meanwhile have been misdirected. If handled correctly from the beginning these finite resources could have been focused where they were needed; on the streets, in neighborhoods and at the borders.
Illicit opioids have entered America in ways that extend far beyond the southern drug pipeline. For many years they were mailed directly to consumers in the United States by exploiting loopholes in the Postal Service. While the passage of Senator Rob Portman’s STOP Act ended this direct mail campaign, the fact of the matter is China remains a problem.
China had promised over and over again to enhance measures to curtail the supply of illicit fentanyl into the United States as far back as the Obama administration. These promises were obviously worthless because seizures of fentanyl at the border skyrocketed 75,000 percent from 2013 to 2017. Today’s number is even bigger.
Instead of re-litigating the past and trying to further regulate the legitimate makers of pain medication, lawmakers should be focused on stopping illegal synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, and carfentanyl from entering our country.
Laws like West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s anti-fentanyl INTERDICT Act, will help stop the flow of synthetic fentanyl and other drugs over the U.S. border. It authorizes $15 million to help equip Customs and Border Protection with scanning devices and new technology for detection the of synthetic opioids while ensuring that CBP will have sufficient resources, personnel and facilities.
A new bill under consideration by Congress, the Fentanyl Sanctions Act, would specifically target the illicit opioid pipeline coming from China with financial restrictions that would cripple their operations. In the big business of drug smuggling, money talks. And this would be a surefire way to hit these bad actors where it hurts.
In the end, we have to realize that over restriction is not the solution, as it becomes a constriction. Although we want to save lives and break the cycle of addiction, this must be balanced against the reality that there are individuals in need of long-term legal access to prescription pain medication.
Our elected officials in Washington should never be involved in over legislating what good doctors can do to help patients and should not hamper the efforts of our men and women in blue. By overburdening our law enforcement with actions against law-abiding citizens, it will do nothing more than leave bad actors with more opportunities to do bad things.
**This article was republished with permission from insidesources.com. Written By: James Fotis.**