The Drug Enforcement Administration is concerned about the abuse of prescription drugs, but its solution may do more harm than good. Writing in today's WSJ, former FDA official Scott Gottleib explains that the DEA is threatening to interfere with medical practice decisions, to the detriment of many Americans who benefit from prescription drugs.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is, sensibly enough, targeting the small number of physicians who inappropriately prescribe drugs in violation of current laws, the "patients" who doctor shop for painkillers and hoard drugs to abuse or sell them, and the criminal diversion of these medications from pharmacies and distribution centers. But the DEA is also trying to influence clinical decisions about when these drugs are prescribed.
This is a mistake. Clinical issues are not the expertise of the DEA. Placing more restrictions on the legitimate prescribers can harm real patients and ethical physicians.