Canadian Medical Group Wants Doctors to Prescribe More Pain Meds 5/21/99

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The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia wants doctors to prescribe narcotics and other controlled drugs more liberally when treating patients with extreme or chronic pain, according to the Globe and Mail newspaper.

At the college's annual meeting last Friday, May 14, outgoing college president Bill Acker said "There has been a fear that prescribing narcotics will result in patient addiction or regulatory sanctions. This has led to patients being undertreated for pain." College registrar Cameron Little added, "patients should be given as much medication as needed to kill pain."

Undertreatment of pain is also a major problem in the United States, where fear of drug enforcement and regulatory sanctions has created a "war on drugs" climate in which adequate pain treatment is discouraged. (See our introduction to this important topic online at

Skip Baker, president of the American Society for Action on Pain, told the Week Online that they often hear from patients in Canada. "Quite often they have a terrible time in Canada," Baker said. "Some of them actually come down here and pay out of their own pocket, because they have a terrible time getting treated in Canada." Canada's health care system is government-financed.

"They kind of follow the lead of America, and when was America went crazy over drugs and was overcome by narcophobia, Canada followed suit, to the great detriment of their own people."

Baker had been adequately treated with morphine for ankylosing spondilitis, an extremely painful bone disease, until the drug war intensified during the 1980's and early 1990's. The resulting anti-drug political affected the medical regulatory agencies, frightening physicians who had previously been willing to prescribe narcotics for pain relief. Baker's physician told him that the Virginia Board of Medicine was taking away doctors' licenses and that he couldn't continue to prescribe for him. Baker was forced to resort to alcohol for pain control, which affected his ability to perform on his job as a professional photographer.

Today, Baker and ASAP help pain patients find doctors who understand proper pain treatment and are willing to brave the regulatory and legal risks to provide it. Visit ASAP online at

(Recent DRCNet coverage of the pain issue:

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Issue #91, 5/21/99 Two-Year Anniversary of Hernandez Shooting | Legislation in Alaska Will Restrict State's Medical Marijuana Law | Australia: Police Force Closure of Safe Injection Room | Somali-Canadian Community Under Attack by Khat Enforcers | Canadian Medical Group Wants Doctors to Prescribe More Pain Meds | Higher Education Act Reform Campaign Update
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