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Pain Patients and Affected Family:
Selected Comments to John Tierney's blog Entries on Hurwitz Retrial

Selected Comments to TierneyLab
articles posted between 2007-04-23 and 2007-04-30; compiled by DeLuca; 2007-05-07. Modified: 2007-05-10.
Related resources:  
Drug War Journalism and Advocacy archives  ; 
 WAR ON PAIN SUFFERERS Special Collections
War on Docs Academic Literature and Official Reports 
See also:
The Doctor is Not a Criminal - Sullum; National Review; 2005
Challenge of Prescription Drug Misuse: Review and Commentary - William Hurwitz; Pain Medicine; 6(2); 2005-03
The 'Bounds of Medical Practice' and the 'Standard of Care' - Alex DeLuca; War on Docs/Pain Crisis; 2007-04-22

Message from Dr. Hurwitz: Sentencing, and Letters of Support - William Hurwitz phone call to DeLuca; 2007-05-04
War on Doctors/Pain Crisis blog and RSS feed


April 28th, 2007. In response to Hurwitz Jurors Explain Their Verdict - John Tierney; TierneyLab; 2007-04-30.

The Hurwitz persecution scares the bejabbers out of me. If I refuse to treat pain adequately that is a criminal offense. If I over treat pain that is a criminal offense. If I cannot tell a smooth, practiced, professional liar from real pain that is a criminal offense. I am expected to be all things to all people, omnipotent and infallible - and if I fail I will be stripped of my license or sent to prison.

Just recently I received a phone call that one of my patients was selling my narcotic prescription on the street. Was this real, a crank call, or a sting operation by the prosecutor? My only avenue of survival was to immediately file a complaint against the patient with BAYONET (a narcotics strike force). Welcome to 1984, Hurwitz jurors. So now that you have forced me to survive by turning people in to the secret police, how do you feel about coming to me and discussing your personal issues? - Posted by Dr. D

April 28th, 2007. In response to
Hurwitz Jurors Explain Their Verdict - John Tierney; TierneyLab; 2007-04-30.

I read NYTimes article on Dr. Hurwitz’ being found guilty and interviews with three jurors. As a lawyer for over 50 yrs.; N.Y.U. Law School; A.L.J. NYS Dept/Labor 18 yrs-hearings and decisions-18 yrs; ALJ NYC Parking Violations-hrgs & decisions - 20 yrs; as associate and counsel to major law firm in NYC for over 30 years - I am frightened by jury verdict against the physician=hope there will be appeals by competent defense counsel-verdict will be overruled. My review of situation-gained from newspapers-shows inadequate support for “guilty” - Posted by Administrative Law Judge Florence D, Horowitz

April 28th, 2007. In response to
Hurwitz Jurors Explain Their Verdict - John Tierney; TierneyLab; 2007-04-30.

What should society do when a properly licensed liquor store owner provides alcohol to an adult alcoholic, whether intoxicated at the time of purchase or not, who then drives down the roadway killing himself and innocent motorists and destroying property? What about an adult who is not alcoholic but exhibiting poor judgment by purchasing a fifth of Everclear (Pure Grain alcohol), 190 proof, and drinking the entire bottle, later passing away from alcohol poisoning? Who should be criminally prosecuted? Who should have his or her license pulled?

What about the store owner who is duly licensed to sell tobacco to adults? What if he or she sells cigarettes, whether filtered or non filtered, to an adult who has emphysema, asthma or lung cancer who will go about smoking and later die from tobacco abuse. What about children who are exposed to second-hand smoke and have their risk of lung cancer doubled in the process?

Who is criminally prosecuted in these matters? What about the damage to society, families and individuals on an annual basis because of the evil business owners that sell these products? They are presumably blinded solely by profit thus throwing caution to the wind, are they not? Aren’t they “pushing” these products without regard to the safety of others. They often do so in “massive” quantities if you consider grams of alcohol or ounces of tobacco.

Now remove store owner, tobacco, alcohol, alcoholism, emphysema, asthma and cancer from the above and substitute physicians, opioids and chronic, non-cancer pain. I understand that opioids require a prescription where alcohol and tobacco don’t, but they are all regulated by the FDA as well as the states. Which are more devastating to society, families and individuals? Which are more “addictive” or “dangerous”? Which ones generate more wealth it for the business owner and revenue for the government?

You know, when you think about it, you don’t see FDA agents, or any other federal agents, standing between the adult customer and the convenience-store “pusher” of alcohol and tobacco thus “protecting the public interest” or serving justice. They do like to put pictures of the food pyramid in there though. Or is that the USDA? It really only matters that we know what is fat free!! Speaking of fat free, when will doughnuts be made a controlled substance? They are highly addictive you know. I would be willing to bet that cigarettes and doughnuts are responsible for more emergency room visits and deaths than opioids anyway.

Arguing that somehow physicians are responsible for the prescription abuse problem in this country is intellectually dishonest. Those who state that the pain relievers prescribed by physicians are so highly addictive and dangerous that there should be criminal prosecutions for overuse or abuse, when carefully compared to the consequences of alcohol and tobacco on our society, are exactly backwards!!

Opioid use/abuse is a public health issue, not a federal criminal justice issue. Enforcement of the CSA needs better guidance from Congress and the Secretary of HHS to be sure. Maybe other government agencies would know better how to proceed if this guidance were given (I doubt it but one can hope). A larger issue, though, is federalism. The states have historically regulated physicians, not the Federal Government.

The actual size and reach of the Federal Government should be of concern to us all. When it is allowed to be inserted into the exam room between a doctor and his or her patient, it’s way too ‘big brotherly” for me. This seems even more communist than the days of Stalin. Can anyone find any examples of a communist country inserting itself into specific prescribing decisions in this manner? Maybe they do or have before and I’m just not aware. Do we want to be like that?

Many thanks to John Tierney for his work on this topic and hosting this forum. - Posted by Dr.Bill

April 28th, 2007. In response to
Hurwitz Jurors Explain Their Verdict - John Tierney; TierneyLab; 2007-04-30.

There is an inherent stigma around drugs, drug use and drug users that makes it impossible for most people to have any objectivity when dealing with related issues.. This stigma is so pervasive and reflexive that if the the jurors were flying by their gut, Dr. Hurwitz was doomed because gut reactions are where stigma shows up. Dr. Hurwitz’ patients reflect our larger society when it come to drugs. Most of them used what was prescribed for them responsibly and a few were abusive. All we ever hear about are the abusers. Possibly, if you as a columnist, could bring more attention to responsible drug use, even illicit drug use, we might be able to get people to think differently about drugs. - Posted by Howard Josepher

April 24th, 2007. In response to What's an Ethical Doctor to Do? - John Tierney; TierneyLab; 2007-04-23.

This article brought back a lot of memories of the four years I spent trying to get my doctors to believe I was in severe pain while being told I was "drug seeking" or that my pain was "psychological". Not until I had an endometrioma (a benign tumor-like growth) obstruct both ureters (requiring major surgery each time to un-obstruct this tube which leads from the kidney to the bladder) six months apart did my doctor finally believe me and apologize. Even in spite of these surgeries, I've lived the past several years in severe and unrelenting pain.

How sad that a truly caring and ethical doctor who went above and beyond; providing free care to his patients who didn't have insurance and caring for those who no-one else would help, is being villified. His trial is a sad commentary on American physician's and their undertreatment of pain, as well as the US government's short-sightedness in failing to help truly empathic physicians' give the best possible care.

I am grateful there are physicians out there who are still willing to risk their livelihood in order to help persons who have no-one else to turn to. I'm especially grateful I was able to find a few of these kind, empathic and believing physicians before I was driven to suicide. During those four long years I came very close to taking this route, spending seven weeks in a mental hospital! The worst of it was, after being told so many times I was "just drug-seeking" or "the pain is all in your head", I began to believe it! Finding these pain specialists saved my life. I pray other physicians will find the courage to stand for what is right and continue the fight against chronic pain.

I know my experience in living this fight has made me a better nurse. Yet the ongoing battle of convincing my primary doctor and others that I'm truly in pain has exhausted me. I can no longer work as a nurse because though the pain medication I am prescribed has helped, I still have too much pain to be able to lift patients or stand on my feet for hours at a time, as well as other nursing duties. The job I believe God called me to do, in order to help those less fortunate than me, is one I can no longer do. But still, though I sorrow over this, I'm grateful for the help I've been given. -
Posted by Debbie, RN

April 28th, 2007. In response to
Hurwitz Jurors Explain Their Verdict - John Tierney; TierneyLab; 2007-04-30.

I don’t understand how a jury of lay people can make a decision that a doctor has prescribed medication outside the bounds of medical practice.

I don’t understand how a juror (let alone 12 of them) can make a decision based on a “gut” feeling about a law he/she didn’t understand and send a man to jail (potentially) for 20+ years.

Thank you, Mr. Tierney, for your coverage of this very serious, and sad case. - Posted by Jack Hildebrand, M.D.




Dr. DeLuca's Addiction, Pain, and Public Health Website

Alexander DeLuca, M.D.

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Originally posted: 2007-05-07

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