DEA Yet To Comment On Pain-Prosecution Guidelines

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The Drug Enforcement Administration may say within two weeks why it reversed its support for a set of negotiated guidelines designed to end a controversy over the arrests of hundreds of pain specialists who prescribed powerful narcotics for their patients, says the Washington Post. As reported first last week by Crime & Justice News, the agency took the document off its Web site this month, fewer than two months after announcing it with great fanfare. DEA wrote that the 31-page document “contained misstatements” and “was not approved as an official statement of the agency.”

Worried doctors who had worked on crafting the “consensus” document — written over the past year by DEA officials and pain management specialists — criticized the agency’s unannounced decision to disavow it. They said they were given no explanation or told whether the agency had changed its position on the contentious question of when and how doctors can prescribe the popular painkillers without risking prosecution. The DEA’s decision appears to have been triggered when defense lawyers tried to introduce the guidelines in the upcoming drug-trafficking trial of William Hurwitz, a McLean, Va., physician. Prosecutors asked that the guidelines be excluded as evidence, again saying that they do “not have the force and effect of law.”

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49719-2004Oct20.html

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