The Pain Relief Network (PRN) is no longer a burr under the saddle of DEA agents eager to second guess doctors or federal prosecutors out to make a name for themselves by prosecuting doctors for their medical decisions. PRN founder and leader Siobhan Reynolds announced December 29 that the group would no longer be an activist organization because "pressure from the US Department of Justice has made it impossible for us to function." The organization's web site continues as an educational and community forum.
Treadway first attempted to impose a gag order on Reynolds and PRN to prevent them from publicly discussing the case and the broader issues of pain control and the tensions between it the DEA's effort to prevent the "improper" prescribing of opioid pain medications. That effort was thrown out by the trial judge.
Treadway then came back with a grand jury investigation seeking evidence of obstruction of justice for PRN's advocacy, and issued subpoenas demanding all PRN records having anything to do with the case, including Reynolds' phone and email records. Reynolds refused to comply and sought relief in the courts, but the organization was hit by $200 daily fines for each day it failed to turn over the records.
Reynolds and PRN lost in US district court and at the 10th US Circuit of Appeals, which, most unusually, sealed its opinion. The government-imposed secrecy surrounding the case has been criticized by groups including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which questioned why the court would "order the complete sealing of a record in which the facts are already publicly known and the traditional grounds for secrecy carry no force." In a post on Reason.com (linked above), Jacob Sullum noted that an amicus brief filed by the Reason Foundation (publisher of Reason) and the Institute for Justice, based entirely on publicly-available information, was itself sealed by the court. Unfortunately, the US Supreme Court last month refused to hear her appeal. (For more detailed coverage on these courthouse antics, see the PRN archive page here.) Broke and unable to obtain redress from the courts, PRN has called it a day.
That is too bad. Reynolds and PRN were tireless activists on behalf of pain patients dating back to her ex-husband's search for relief from a debilitating condition. That search led them to Dr. Billy Hurwitz, a leading high-dose opioid pain reliever prescriber. But Hurwitz was himself prosecuted and convicted by the feds for his prescribing, kicking Reynolds and PRN into high gear.
PRN also worked other cases of doctors persecuted by the DEA and federal prosecutors over their opioid prescribing practices. Reynolds and PRN also played a key role in agitating around Richard Paey, the Florida pain patient sentenced to 25 years as a drug dealer for obtaining pain meds from multiple pharmacies. Paey was later pardoned by Gov. Charlie Crist, thanks in good part to PRN's efforts.
PRN may be done as an activist organization, but the community of patients Reynolds organized is not going away. Reynold's announcement indicated that they are looking at a possible new legal action in the Western District of Washington, but not under PRN's auspices.