Regulating Opioid Prescriptions

To the Editor:

Re “The D.E.A. Should Get Out of Public Health,” by Shravani Durbhakula (Opinion guest essay, March 25):

The chilling effect on the legitimate prescribing and dispensing of opioid medications provoked by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s actions is having devastating real-world consequences among people living with chronic pain.

Although opioid therapy is not a panacea for pain management, which often necessitates a complex approach, certain patients undoubtedly benefit from these medications for long-term pain relief. People living with severely disabling pain conditions can participate in life’s activities if their opioid therapy is properly managed.

The D.EA., serving in a policing capacity, is not helping our country deal appropriately with the concerning drug overdose crisis. Public health evidence could not be clearer: The significant decline in opioid prescribing has not correlated with a significant decline in drug overdoses. Cutting the medical supply of opioids is not addressing overdoses and risks the health and lives of people who need access to essential medications.

Regulation of health-related activities to protect the public health of Americans must be guided by experts on those topics, not law enforcement agents.

Juan M. Hincapie-Castillo
Pittsboro, N.C.
The writer is a pharmacist and an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology of the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the board president of the National Pain Advocacy Center, a nonprofit that receives no industry funds.

To the Editor:

Dr. Shravani Durbhakula’s critique of the Drug Enforcement Administration is misguided and unjustified.

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