RESOLUTION 61-05, 2004: Government Interference in the Relief of Pain


WHEREAS: more than 50 million Americans suffer persistent pain; and

WHEREAS: the cost of untreated pain from lost workdays and unnecessary hospitalizations is estimated at $100 billion annually; and

WHEREAS: appropriate application of current pain management knowledge and treatments can serve to improve the quality of life of patients with pain, as well as reduce the morbidity and costs associated with untreated or inappropriately treated pain; and

WHEREAS: principles of medical practice dictate that patients have access to appropriate and effective pain relief, and for some patients, pain management is the single most important treatment a physician can provide; and

WHEREAS: many controlled substances have useful and legitimate medical and scientific purposes and are necessary to maintain the health and general welfare; and

WHEREAS: experts agree that untreated and undertreated pain is an epidemic in the United States, poses the greatest threat to millions of Americans suffering in agony unnecessarily; and

WHEREAS: medical journals have reported for the past 20 years that when physicians fail to manage their patients’ pain appropriately it is partially out of fear of criminal prosecution; and

WHEREAS: the “War on Drugs’’ has come to mean a war on legal drugs – and against the doctors who prescribe them, and the patients who need them; and

WHEREAS: doctors are being threatened, impoverished, delicensed, and imprisoned for prescribing legal drugs in good faith with the intention of relieving pain; and

WHEREAS: patients are threatened by prosecutors if they refuse to testify against doctors; and

WHEREAS: patients whose doctors are targeted, or simply intimidated, are left in debilitating pain, some driven to suicide rather than endure the pain; and WHEREAS: federal prosecutors have likened pain management specialists to the Taliban, and employed tactics usually reserved the most heinous of drug kingpins and traffickers; and

WHEREAS: the DEA has targeted physicians as the primary source of drug diversion, while the government’s own studies show that most illicit drug users rarely obtain prescription drugs using methods commonly associated with pharmaceutical diversion such as doctor shopping; and

WHEREAS: the Oath of Hippocrates requires physicians to prescribe a “regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and judgment,” not one determined by government agency or insurance bureaucrat;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT: the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) considers the standard of care for prescribing controlled substances for the relief of pain to be that the physician is acting upon his best judgment for the benefit of his patient, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT: the federal government does not have the lawful authority to interfere with the practice of medicine by second-guessing physicians’ judgment in the prescribing of controlled substances for the relief of pain, and should cease and desist from criminal prosecutions based on differences of medical opinion on medical necessity or the appropriate use of certain drugs.