Government and Pain
Siobhan Reynolds died last weekend in a plane crash. I learned about this from Radley Balko, who reviewed Ms. Reynolds’s crusade at The Agitator. Her story is worth remembering.
Sean Greenwood, her former husband, suffered from chronic headaches and a connective tissue disorder. Unfortunately, pain management was not taken very seriously by doctors in those days, and the federal government made matters far worse by treating doctors who prescribed pain medication as “pushers” rather than legitimate healers. In The Chilling Effect, a movie Ms. Reynolds produced about pain and policy regarding it, she details Greenwood’s travails, and other’s. It’s a harrowing story, and the government doesn’t come out looking very good.
Ms. Reynolds’s main effort centered on the Pain Relief Network, which she organized. Her mission was to defend those doctors whom she thought were being unjustly harassed by the drug warriors. Specifically, she defended doctors who engaged in high-dose opioid therapy, a course Mr. Greenwood and other patients found to offer some relief. As Balko puts it, she was not without success, getting “some sentences overturned, and hooked accused doctors up with attorneys who know the issue. ” Unfortunately, that’s likely why prosecutors went after her, and in another horrible misuse of sealed court proceedings, suppressed her organization and brought her close to ruin.
There’s an old phrase, “doctor knows best.” That’s obviously not always true, but it’s certainly the case that government does not know best. Especially about pain.
Though it surely causes a lot, adding to our suffering.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.