Are Doctors Prescribing Too Many Pain Medications?

In October, I was asked to speak at a Mayday Foundation meeting about blogging and using social media to spread a message. The Mayday Foundation is a global organization dedicated to pain relief.

At the meeting I met Bob Twillman, a 2011-2012 Mayday Fellow, who also is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the American Academy of Pain Management. After the meeting he wrote a blog post for’s Congress Blog focusing on what he describes as “the much-ballyhooed issuance of three papers (including one Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) from CDC last week on the issue of overdoses and deaths involving prescription opiods. ”

Twillman’s essay reminds us that limiting access to pain medications is not the way to limit overuse. As regular HealthBeat readers know, I am concerned about overtreatment. But most patients who overdose get their pain medications from someone else’s medicine cabinet—not from a prescription that a doctor wrote for them. Physicians should be able to prescribe these drugs for the many patients who truly need them.

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