Pubdate: Tue, 22 Jul 2003
Source: Fort Pierce Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2003 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Richard Sinnott


Keeping up with the fashionable but questionable and unsavory trends
in law enforcement nationwide, St. Lucie County is in the business of
entrapping, arresting, humiliating and scorning individuals who are
licensed by the state to prescribe and dispense prescription drugs.
What offenses are these men charged with? Well, it seems strange I
admit, but they are being charged with prescribing and dispensing
prescription drugs.

Go figure!

I have not read the pertinent Florida Statutes that govern
prescription writing, but my guess is that they do not place a number
on the pills or potions that a licensed person may prescribe or dispense.

If that assumption is correct, then law enforcement is arresting
medical professionals for doing exactly what they are licensed to do,
and there is something fundamentally wrong with that picture.

The relationship between physician and patient is very personal and
private. Is it proper that the state should make any claim to
interfere in that relationship? How is the line drawn between the
compassionate practice of medicine and abuse of the privilege to
prescribe lawful drugs? Is it possible to write a regulation that can
recognize and define that line in practical terms?

It is most unfortunate, but so very human, that some patients cannot
or will not follow the physician's instructions on how any given
medicine should be taken.

Even though these instructions are typed in plain English on the pill
bottle, some folks will ignore them. Such behavior is an accurate
insight into a flaw in the patient's ability to reason or his common

It is not a comment upon the doctor's professional conduct or

Assuming that OxyContin is the drug in question in this controversy, I
know several individuals who take the medicine exactly as instructed
by the doctor and the pharmacist. They do not crush and snort the
pills or otherwise go against the doctor's orders.

They all describe the drug as the first pain pill ever to completely
control various forms of chronic pain.

That so many people do abuse the drug, and that such a black market
has evolved so that people buy, sell and trade the stuff to each other
and police informants is a manifestation of a complex set of problems,
and beyond the scope of this letter.

In the case of the incident at the Advanced Care Emergi Center, law
enforcement claims that it has done justice and is protecting and
serving the public by conducting the sting.

They have claimed that St. Lucie County will be saved from some sort
of dangerous poison, much the way the prohibition of alcohol was
supposed to have saved us from the Demon Rum. The truth is that a huge
injustice has been created, as the sting operation has put out of
commission two compassionate, competent, ethical and licensed medical
practitioners. This, at a time when good health care is difficult to
find for many people.

The shame and humiliation heaped upon those men also is heaped upon
this community to some degree.

Law enforcement has made them scapegoats for the pitiful individuals
who are unwilling to use powerful drugs in the approved dosage or
method of ingestion.

Your newspaper story reports that an informant or a deputy pretending
to be a patient deceived the doctor and lied about his pain and need
for pain medicine.

How can a case built upon deception and fraud be considered proper or
just? It cannot.

The police authorities have many valid and necessary functions in our
society. In my view, a competent and just police authority enforcing
just and respectable laws is a cornerstone of a civilized society.
Pretending to practice medicine or pharmacy is not a valid or proper
function for the police.

If the authorities, federal and state, can honestly prove that
OxyContin is a bad drug and should not be available, then they should
see to it that the drug is withdrawn through proper procedures. That
is the logical and proper procedure to follow.

Richard Sinnott, Fort Pierce
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake