Battlepanda: Medicine, same as cocaine.


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Medicine, same as cocaine.

(Via Lindsay @ Washington Monthly, who pointed me to the NYT column by John Tierney)
The latest casualty of the War on Drugs is Richard Paey. A sufferer of chronic pain and multiple sclerosis, he was persecuted as a drug dealer for possessing more than twenty-eight grams of Percocet, which he could not prove he did not get legally.
Mr. Paey said he had refused the deal partly out of principle - "I didn't want to plead guilty to something that I didn't do" - and partly because he feared he'd be in pain the rest of his life because doctors would be afraid to write prescriptions for anyone with a drug conviction.

If you think that sounds paranoid, you haven't talked to other chronic-pain patients who've become victims of the government campaigns against prescription drugs. Whether these efforts have done any good is debatable (and a topic for another column), but the harm is clear to the millions of patients who aren't getting enough medicine for their pain.

Mr. Paey is merely the most outrageous example of the problem as he contemplates spending the rest of his life on a three-inch foam mattress on a steel prison bed. He told me he tried not to do anything to aggravate his condition because going to the emergency room required an excruciating four-hour trip sitting in a wheelchair with his arms and legs in chains.

The odd thing, he said, is that he's actually getting better medication than he did at the time of his arrest because the State of Florida is now supplying him with a morphine pump, which gives him more pain relief than the pills that triggered so much suspicion. The illogic struck him as utterly normal.

"We've become mad in our pursuit of drug-law violations," he said. "Generations to come will look back and scarcely believe what we've done to sick people."
Yep. A family man who needs opiates to curb his pain enough to go to his children's recitals is the same as a cocaine dealer. Right.