Federal and state governments have geared themselves toward fighting a nationwide opioid epidemic that, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, is responsible for 115 deaths daily. In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey declared opioid related overdoses a public health emergency in 2017—taking an aggressive position on the issue.
In January, Gov. Ducey signed into law the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, and in April amendments to that law placed a ceiling on prescription dosages to 90 morphine milligram equivalents (MME), but it seems to be having a negative effect on those who actually need it.
An article by KJZZ uses the story of Shannon Hubbard, a military veteran suffering from complex regional pain syndrome, to portray the demographic this law is hurting.
Hubbard has been prescribed over 60 medications in the past three years and said not one came close to quelling the debilitating pain she experiences perpetually. For the few months she was on short and long-term opioids however, some of that pain subsided—in April her doctor was legally obligated to decrease her dosage.
Pain Doctor Julian Grove, interviewed by KJZZ, said, “a lot of practitioners are reducing opioid medications, not from a clinical perspective, but more from a legal and regulatory perspective for fear of investigation.”
In a letter written to Arizona’s Department of Health Services, the Arizona Medical Association (ARMA) and the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association (AOMA) cautioned policymakers to be careful when making changes. The letter read,
It is virtually impossible to legislate the care of individual patients since each patient has unique needs and responds differently to varying types and levels of treatment. Laws seldom keep pace with changes in evidence-based medicine.
To read more about Hubbard’s condition and for KJZZ’s full story, click here.
Click here for the letter from ARMA & AOMA.