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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; 2007-05-10.
Related resources:  
Drug War Journalism and Advocacy archives  ; 
 WAR ON PAIN SUFFERERS Special Collections
War on Docs Academic Literature and Official Reports 
See also:
No Relief in Sight - Jacob Sullum, Reason Online, 1997
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
War on Doctors/Pain Crisis blog and RSS feed

Message from Dr. Hurwitz: Sentencing, and Letters of Support - William Hurwitz phone call to DeLuca; 2007-05-04


April 25th, 2007. In response to What's an Ethical Doctor to Do? - John Tierney; TierneyLab; 2007-04-23.

I have had Crohn's disease for 20 years and in that time I have seen the "superstars" of gastroenterology (Dr Spiro and Dr Korelitz). I can say without hesitation that Dr Hurwitz was the most intelligent and caring of any doctor I have seen. He did CONSTANT research on ways to lower the tolerance of his patients, while still offering adequate pain relief. The prosecution is hoping that they can shock the jury with these numbers, especially since the average person would experience euphoric effects from just a couple of 5mg percocet. The key to Dr Hurwitz defense should be to EDUCATE the jury about long term opiod use. If the defense was successful in doing this, I have no doubt that they will find Dr Hurwitz not guilty on all charges. - Posted by BM

April 25th, 2007. In response to
What's an Ethical Doctor to Do? - John Tierney; TierneyLab; 2007-04-23.

In response to BM (previous comment):

You are exactly right about how Dr. Hurwitz was constantly doing research on how to lower the tolerance of his patients… and as a result the number of pills his patients would need to take.

Unlike any doctor I have ever been to, he was also a scientist, very curious and excited about what he did. The first attempt he made at lowering tolerance was naltrexone. He had done extensive research on naltrexone - which is an opioid antagonist - and how in minute amounts it was shown to reverse tolerance in many patients.

What struck me most about naltrexone - was how he reached the concentrations needed to reduce tolerance. He would dilute 1 drop of naltrexone in a liter of water. Then he would take 1 drop of that solution, and dilute that in another liter of water. I don't know if I have it exactly right - he may have done another round of diluting - but it was fascinating listening to him explain how he reached the levels necessary.

Unfortunately he didn't see universal success with naltrexone. But it is important to note that on the one hand he was willing to prescribe pain meds; while on the other hand his overriding desire was to keep tolerance under control. -
Posted by Mike

April 28th, 2007. In response to
Hurwitz Convicted on 16 Counts of Drug Trafficking - John Tierney; TierneyLab; 2007-04-27.

As a patient with a 30+ year migraine history, the past 5 on disability, I find this case frightening. It is VERY difficult to find a doctor who fully and fearlessly understands what life is truly like for those in chronic, intractable, severe pain.

It is an unbearable, hopeless hell. The ability to even get out of bed each day is ENTIRELY dependent on finding a doctor who will treat pain adequately and respectfully. For MANY of us, this means opioids. More often than not, we have tried countless alternatives in hopes of avoiding chronic use of narcotics. I envy those whose bodies respond to alternatives, but that simply isn't always the case.

It blows my mind that this doctor has been convicted of any crime. His expertise, experience, and compassion are SORELY needed in his profession. Our country's puritanical fear of drugs seems to know no boundaries. - Posted by Kate

April 26th, 2007.
April 25th, 2007. In response to What's an Ethical Doctor to Do? - John Tierney; TierneyLab; 2007-04-23.

This government is so hung up on drugs that they can't see the legitimate use of them. As a pain patient and a RN, who is working full time, I find it despicable that the government would prosecute a doctor who is clearly standing up for his patient's rights and trying to alleviate their pain. People who have never had pain have no idea what it is like to feel pain all the time. It is not unusual for them to have thoughts of suicide or to actually commit suicide. Life becomes a daily struggle with no hope for the future, and the cost to keep these people on disability is more than the cost of treating them. If Dr. Hurwitz is convicted, it sends a horrible message to the rest of the pain clinics in the country. I can't believe that Dr. Hurwitz was was being prosecuted for doing his job-alleviating pain and suffering. Decisions about pain medications should not be left in the hands of government, but rather with the doctors, who should have access to them in order to relieve their patients' pain. - Posted by Barbara V Johnson

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

I was a patient of Dr Hurwitz in the late 90s. He treated my chronic pain with opiates and followed my dosages closely until we found the right amount that would allow me to continue to work and not impair my ability to think.

Now I have no treatment for chronic pain and can no longer work. I am applying for disability just so I can keep a roof over my head and food in the kitchen.

Which is worse? Allowing patients to receive the treatment they need in order to lead productive lives, or have the government support them because they cannot get the treatment they need? -
Posted by Chey Cobb

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

I have been suffering with a chronic and degenerative back disease for 16 years and it has always been hard to get anything for pain. I have tried not to take pain meds knowing that my pain will get worse with time and it has. I have been to pain centers, neurologist, and so many other specialists and gotten no help. I have been wondering why it has been so hard to get any pain medication. I can not sleep and it is all I can do to get myself to work every day.

The only help I have gotten so far is a 10 pound lifting restriction and a high back chair at work. I wanted to thank you for this article it is time that people find out how hard it is to live with chronic pain and how hard it is to get treatment. I am so sorry that Dr. William Hurwitz has been helping people like me I just wish I could find a Dr. like him in Indiana. - Posted by Mike Morgan

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 vilified. 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 25th, 2007. In response to What's an Ethical Doctor to Do? - John Tierney; TierneyLab; 2007-04-23.

I just came across this case last week, and believe it to be one of the all to many instances in which doctors are being sought out as if they are "drug kingpins"! And we wonder why doctors are not treating pain adequately in this country...

I am a RN, who in July of 2000 had a back injury, after a lot of conservative treatment that failed... I was referred to pain management Feb 2001. Several treatments were tried, [including] spinal cord stimulators, injection, and so on with little to no relief. I then had a intrathecal [morphine] pump placed in Nov. 2001, it saved me from suicide, simply because I had gotten some pain relief for the first time in 1 1/2 years. I was fortunate to have decent doctors like Hurwitz who truly want to help people, they are few and far between.

This legal mess created by our "justice" system is a joke. They have no medical degrees, failed to take into consideration that the [Dr. Hurwitz] had a group of medical professionals, (his peers) scrutinize his charts and found no inappropriate care of his patients. At this juncture, the whole "investigation" should have ended...

Shame on all of those who are trying to get Dr. Hurwitz jailed when no crime has been committed. If they only spent the time and money on real investigations of drug dealers, maybe their "war on drugs" would be [more effective]... -
Posted by Dawn RN




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

Alexander DeLuca, M.D.

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