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Pain Medicine: Advocacy Group to Challenge Controlled Substances Act In Lawsuit Aimed at Protecting Physicians, Patients

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #518)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Haysville, Kansas, physician Dr. Stephen Schneider and his nurse wife, Linda Schneider, were arrested on a 34-count federal indictment last month for allegedly improperly prescribing opioid pain medications and causing the deaths of at least four patients. The Schneiders are only the latest pain management health care providers to fall victim to the federal government's war against prescription drug abuse and diversion, and now a leading pain relief advocacy group is vowing to take the government to court to block further harassment of physicians and the pain-ridden patients who rely on them.

Last Friday, the Pain Relief Network announced it will seek a civil injunction barring the Justice Department from prosecuting the Schneiders. But the lawsuit could have much broader implications than the couple's freedom. It will argue that the way the federal Controlled Substances Act is applied to doctors and patients is unconstitutional.

"I want a judge to take a look at this and see if the United States has authority to prosecute," Pain Relief Network head Siobhan Reynolds said during a press briefing last Friday. Reynolds cited a ruling in a similar case that such prosecutions give the government unrestrained power to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship.

The real victims of the government's crackdown on the Schneiders and other health care professionals prescribing opioid pain medications are patients, said Reynolds. "These patients are in real harm's way," Reynolds said. "They are being attacked by the Department of Justice."

While some of Dr. Schneider's former patients have filed malpractice lawsuits claiming they became addicted because of his prescribing, other patients said he had been a godsend and that they are suffering now without him.

One was Jamie McGuire, 49, who had been receiving pain meds for severe arthritis in his spine, hips, and shoulders resulting from an auto accident. Since Schneider was jailed, he has been unable to even get a referral to another doctor. "I think they railroaded him," he said of the prosecution. McGuire told reporters he is almost out of pain medication and his situation is dire. "If they don't do something, I will take myself out," McGuire said.

Another patient, Martin Beatty, 46, also showed up to support his doctor. He said he opted for a regime of pain meds rather than surgery or steroids after falling from a roof 12 years ago and had been a patient of Schneider's for three years. He admitted being dependent on his pain meds, but said that shouldn't matter. "Addiction doesn't mean I am going to be a bad person," Beatty said. Now he worries about going through withdrawal without being under a physician's care.

This week, patients and advocates continued to fight for Dr. Schneider, who, along with his wife, remains jailed. They gathered at his offices to show support and sign petitions, one to join the federal lawsuit, the other to keep the Kansas Board of Healing Arts from moving to suspend his license. According to Reynolds, the clinic will be forced to close because the physician assistants now writing prescriptions are doing so under the auspices of working for a clinic owned by a licensed physician. Other doctors who once practiced at the clinic have been run off by fears of federal prosecution, she said.

"Right now we are calling on the medical board to refrain from joining in this attack on this clinic. This clinic has been hobbled by the Justice Department. These patients are living in mortal fear," Reynolds said.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


hippiemommaida (not verified)

I can see the distress the patients are going thru. I suffer extreme pain and prefer using marijuanna instead of using the vicodin. I have arthritis in hips, back knees, neck, wrist, hands and feet. With the use of marijuanna, I can get up and atleast attempt to accomplish something. And my attitude is better. I worry every day that the feds will arrest my 215 dr. Now at least I am safe from the local cops.

Fri, 01/11/2008 - 11:38am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

"some of Dr. Schneider's former patients have filed malpractice lawsuits claiming they became addicted because of his prescribing, other patients said he had been a godsend and that they are suffering now without him."

These so-called former patients who claim to have become addicted and are filing malpractice lawsuits are nothing but SCAM ARTISTS!!

Physical dependence on opioid's is a minor side effect that is easily overcome by gradually decreasing the dosage once the patient has recovered and the pain level has abated. Example: if a patient were taking 60 milligrams of oxycodone per day following surgery, and is now recovering, but has developed a physical dependence on the medicine, they can decrease the dosage to 30 milligrams for several days. Then 15 milligrams for a few days. Then 5 milligrams. Now that the patient is taking one percoset a day it's easily managed. Now go 48 hours. Then go seven days. They now have no physical dependence on the medicine.

I support the "Pain Relief Network" and believe they should win their legal battle.

Good luck to PRN, and thank you DRCnet.

Fri, 01/11/2008 - 12:46pm Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

You made a good analysis. The other thing might be that most want to punish the doctor for their inability to control their use of their own pain medicine. (the doctor can't go home with every patient, can he?) They think they deserve to get rich (like the doctor) because of it. Most are likely dishonest with their doctor, in the first place! They just see $$$$$! Greed is likely the biggest factor!

From the most part, opiods are the safest drugs for treating pain, both acute and chronic! 16-20,000 people die, each year, from the bleeding compllications alone, of NSAIDS! That has nothing to say about the heart attacks they say the same drugs like it, ( Vioox and others) have caused!

Fri, 01/11/2008 - 6:32pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

It seems the crusaders looking to make names for themselves are willing to lay many lives on the chopping block for their glory in this witch-hunt society, propagated by the federal government bent on liberating us from our liberties. If you good poeple out there don't vote for Ron Paul, this will only be the beginning of a totalitiarian rule depriving us of our blood earned liberties and rights! This is not a joke! This is our last chance to honor the blood of our forefathers....or to spit on it with our fears and ignorance! TRUTH!

D.L. Matkins Sr.

Fri, 01/11/2008 - 12:58pm Permalink
mediagod2004 (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Libertarian here. I can snort asbestos, clean with bleach and ammonia for years, smoke cigs asvertised since i was a kid, throw back any pill the doc gives me but if I know something works without many or any side effects and have this medically backed, why the fuss?
I take a minimal dose of opiates. I have over the past 8 years suffered from chronic pain, heart attacks, angina, back pain, you name it. Now even though I was eating Vicodin by the handful, just call me HOUSE, up to 15 a day minimum.

But when I lower it to 10 mgs a day and am getting without paying from a friend and also tell each and every doctor involved in my care i take it, their heads don't want it and want me fired every time.

I have been asked time and again if I am gay, have AIDS, been arrested, been in prison, are you sure you don't do Heroin or Cocaine, do you have Hepatitis, meanwhile my chart says, previous heart attacks, stent in place, angina chronic, and everything else it say, they just cannot get their eyes of that 10mgs left over after 8 years.

I saw first, cure me, then we will take care of any addiction issues because it has no bearing on my heart issues. in fact, the specific drug i take has been shown clinically to remove calcification in the heart, one thing that is a huge positive for someone like me. but they still hate it.

now i've been told i would be fired if i didn't stop it in 4 months. reason? i saw their pscyhiatrist who was nothing but a psychopharmacologist, not talk therapy. In fact, i mentioned i had been molested as a child by three different girls and women and she interuppted me and said, "lets get back to the drugs".
She then ordered that I not return to see her. She didn't want me as a patient but THEN, which I think it ethically unsound and I just may legally slap her for it. She demands a urine and all my psych reports pulled from 20 years ago where i left them never to deal with again. I was 16 to 21. Who in the hell doesn't have issues, some more than others. After 21 I was done with that madness and moved on becoming a success.

She cared nothing for this. She wanted the records and my urine. She didn't believe I wasn't an IV and Coke user, etc., and wrote a brutal report that every doctor now has to listen to because she screamed it basically. Now after Ive been in the clinic for 2 years getting better, they are all backing off, not wanting to treat me and pulling back meds they use to give me regularly.

I am sick of it and I want the ability to walk into an Admin's office, lay down my evidence and witness statements and say, your hospital has screwed me for 4 years. Time to pay.

Good luck to all and keep the DEA where they belong, in the alphabet.


Sat, 05/15/2010 - 1:49am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Maybe this lawsuit will help. It can't make things worse. This is a witch hunt and a usurping of the doctor-patient relationship. I don't know how much schooling a DEA agent has to have but I know they aren't qualified to take this doctor's garbage out. I can't believe the doctor and his wife are still in jail. Have we gotten to the point where a doctor can't get a recognizance bond? These agents are thugs.

Fri, 01/11/2008 - 3:20pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The post above that suggests tapering as a way for pain patients to avoid acute withdrawal is technically accurate, but in my experience (as someone who has had multiple surgeries for chronic back pain caused by disk herniation), no doctor has ever offered that option. I was always afraid to ask because I thought such accurate knowledge would identify me as a "drug seeker".

However, if (god forbid) I have a re-occurrence of back problems, or another injury that justifies opioid pain relief, I will insist that the doctor agree to prescribe a tapering regime or I won't accept the initial script.

I guess we'll have to wait and see how that plays out.

BTW, I agree with the contention that those suing the doctor are greedy opportunists. But there are plenty of other people who do suffer through withdrawal after becoming dependent who do not take legal action.

Fri, 01/11/2008 - 3:39pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The real risk here is that all of this doctor's patients will now be forced to find another physician to help them. Good luck with that!!! Most doctors now seem to think that everyone is an addict, or a potential addict. Which is the lesser of the two evils? I choose to take my medication (after three shoulder surgeries that left me disabled) rather than not be able to function at all. If someone has a chronic condition who should care if they are dependant on narcotic medication? I would much rather be "dependant" than to be in excruciating pain all the time. Good luck to this doctor and his wife. We need more docs such as him in the world.

Fri, 01/11/2008 - 4:58pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

If you don't think your doctor has been intimidated by the DEA, think again. Your doctor's prescriptions should be made on the basis of your health and comfort. But they're not. Even more important, at least for the doctor, is whether the prescriptions conform to a pattern that the DEA finds interesting. No doctor wants to write a prescription that the DEA will find interesting, even if it's the best thing for the patient. It's no fun to be in jail.
Typically, doctors don't like being in jail. When a doctor weighs the benefit of your pain relief against the cost of his becoming an object of interest to the DEA, you can expect that your pain will have less weight, and that you will suffer unnecessary pain.

Health care in America: it's about many things, and your health and comfort *may* be one of them. Mostly, though, it's about money and power. It's appalling what America has become. It's time to change course.

Sat, 01/12/2008 - 12:24pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Bupronorphin (I'm not sure if that's the correct spelling?) has been found to be very effective in helping people get off opioids. There's a big difference between addiction and dependance. A diabetic, for example, cannot become addicted to insulin.

Sat, 01/12/2008 - 7:54pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I have been on methadone maintenence for close to ten years. All clients must do annual "educational updates" (a Department of Public Health requirement in my state) that consists of :HIV/HepC 101, an overview of the clinic's rules and regs, and "Addiction Education". The nurse, explaining the difference between "addiction" and "dependence" said:"Depencence means that you are physically reliant on a substance (ie:drug) that you need to treat a chronic medical condition. "Addiction" is the physical reliance on a substance that, without which, you can't function; the pursuit of which becomes overwhelming". Now mind you, this woman was a moron. The point she was making was: "Dependence" is medically sanctioned "Addiction", and "Addiction" is "Dependence" we haven't sanctioned. I would guess that close to 50% of the people on my clinic were first introduced to opiates by doctors for
legitimate" (and often severe) pain.Unfortunately thanks to anti-drug hysteria doctors are running scared, on the look-out for "drug-seeking behavior" . Yes, I need relief; I'm seeking relief; drugs will relieve me, therefore, I AM seeking drugs! Christ, what a tragedy. Of course, many people are forced to do what they have to do. What about the elderly cancer patient who doesn't have the black market option that many resort to? But then, why should any of us have to resort to it at all?

Sat, 01/12/2008 - 11:02pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The comment posted on 11:02 12 January defines "addiction" (vs "dependence") the best I've seen: Dependence is sanctioned dependence -- like insulin -- and addiction is unsanctioned dependence. It is a legal construct, not a medical one. We ask, "Is the patient dependent on the drug or is he/she dependent on the pain relief the drug brings?" There is no way to know outside of a long-term clinical setting. I suspect that many pain patients themselves don't know. But we let the police decide. Even if all prosecutors also had a medical degrees, they'd have a conflict of interest because their job is to get convictions. Besides that, addiction is not a crime, except for the poor, the black and the brown. The DEA has exceeded its statutory authority in the way it has interpreted the Controlled Substances Act. Give pain treatment back to the docs. But, remember, just as an ob-gyn cannot guarantee all babies will be normal, a pain doc cannot guarantee all patients will have a normal life span.


Mon, 01/14/2008 - 4:27am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I've done my fair share of damage to my neck, shoulders and back; bike accidents, car accidents (in one, I was thrown out of the passenger side window and slid on my back for quite a ways). Thankfully, I have found a doctor who prescribes medicines that help, but at the same time he thinks I am there because "he has a reputation" and I just want to get good pills. Without these medications, I am not able to get out of bed some mornings. When the pain gets very bad even vicoden and ultram don't help. I would love to sign a petition, is there an online one?

Tue, 01/15/2008 - 4:51am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hey I know what u mean/ My problem is I had a great doc who has since retired. I am in alot of pain from arthritis and car accident. I cant find a doc that is willing to help me as I was before. anyway did u find that online petition because I would love to find one to sign.

Wed, 04/15/2009 - 4:35pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I thouhgt the FDA wrote the PDR
Not the DEA with their little star
DOJ is a house of ill repute
Not us doctors with much astute
SHAME on judges Gaschler and Bostwick
They made a decision that was way to quck
Haysville,Kansas Doctor Schneider is a good man
He is a credit to Hippocrates plan !

J. Casey MD, Philosophie Doctor

Wed, 01/30/2008 - 1:01pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

If patients get addicted that is their fault, if they really do not need the narcotic.. Many of us are being injured and disabled by a product not FDA approved for back and sciatica pain the FDA knows this drug is disabling patients and so does the drug company and they let it go on, because of GREED, and the DRS should know if they read the phamplet or leaflet that come with the product if it is not to go into the spine or not, yet they do not and do not tell their patients what is being used. This is a steriod called Depo Medrol the label clearly states not for the spine yet this conitnues by the drs in pain clinics, because of GREED. We end up with adhesive arachnoisitis this is gluing our spinal cord nerves together, thus disabling a patient and causes a debilliatin pain there is no cure for ,this has to stop.That is another reason people have to take strong pain meds and they do not even help us, so we resort to living in pain day in and out and this is not our fault.
FDA did not write the PDR it has to come from the AMA why would the FDA do this when they cannot regulate our food, drugs etc to make sure their safe, they need more funds and help and Congress will not give them the funds, we need to put the blame on the right source Our Physicans need to take the responsibily to tell their patients about the treatments they are getting and the product being used, and stop the Wall of Silence , all need to read this book get it from your library..While pain meds do nothing for us, we need medical Marjuina leglagized for people in pain, and not fire them from their job is they have a Dr permission stating they are using this for pain, this may put our drug manufactures out of busines and God knows we wolud not want to do that!!!! We wonder why the kids can get these drug yet we who desperately need pain help, cannot get it if the DOJ wants to do something for the people then they need to forget about the big Drug Companys and help the people in pain ,stop the Profits B4 Patients ,it should be Patients B4 Profits, yet when Greed is in the picture they will not do this. Stop injuring and disabling patients doctors and we would not have to depend on narcotics to get thru life Think about this.

Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:57pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)


Sat, 11/01/2008 - 12:20am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The DOJ does not nor should it be allowed to "practice" medicine. Doctors are licensed to "practice" medicine by the states, not the federal goverment. Perhaps the states should be the ones to issue a new version of the current DEA number that allows doctors to write perscriptions?

I am sure you are wondering why I have put "practice" into quotation marks. Medicine, while very good in most respects is by no means always a exacting profession. While most doctors do the upmost to get it right everytime, everyone will tell you they have had someone who they treated, outcome be less than optimal. It is called a license to practice for a reason.

Until a definitive test to show how much pain someone is in (it cannot happen) doctors must make judgement calls. I agree that practices that are going to be dealing with large, prolonged opiod treatment regimes shoud keep exacting records, but that is to protect the doctor from just this type of railroading. I wish only the best to the doctor, his wife, family, friends and patients. I am sure at this point they are all suffering.

A pain patient

Sat, 02/02/2008 - 12:15pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

It is very disconcerning what our "Free" America has come to. I no longer feel free when I cannot sit down at my computer, go on the internet, and consult a physician about MY body...or is it still MY body? I am beginning to wonder if it belongs to the government who, by the way, has a combo letter of the alphabet for every category they want to classify ME and MY body under. Here I sit, I have had multiple abdominal surgeries since I was 6 years old which has caused severe internal abdominal adhesions which I have had surgery for twice...they keep coming back and will til I die! I can't afford more surgery since I now no longer have medical insurance. I can't afford the tromp from doctor to doctor and am not even asking for the hard stuff for my chronic daily pain...just a little Tramadol...which is NOT a controlled substance. I COULD OVERDOSE AND KILL MYSELF WITH A BOTTLE OF ASPIRIN. SHOULD MY SURVIVORS PROSECUTE AND PUT IN PRISON THE OWNER OF THE CORNER STORE I BOUGHT IT AT? Why are we holding the dispensor responsible? Why are we regulating the dispensor? As long as I have been informed of the dangers, side effects, withdrawl symptoms, ect. of the substance I plan to put into MY body, who should tell me I can or cannot consume it? Are we REALLY free?

Wed, 09/03/2008 - 5:25am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

we let the goverment step and scam us,right in front of we were in china.we need to vote.GOD's not REPULICAN r DEM.

Sat, 11/01/2008 - 12:32am Permalink
paula paczkowski (not verified)

all pain doctors who continuously give

out pain meds like candy should be prosecuted,someone in the post stated that doctors can't go home with the patients to watch them,well maybe they should have a nurse of someone make random stops to their homes to check on them and check their meds and maybe even act like they care about how they are feeling and other options for pain relief,they have no problem just refilling prescriptions their easy way out,no consideration for their families or what the person goes through to feed their addiction,good people are losing their lives,and their families most of all their mind....doctors should actually look at the prescriptions they write so easily and think if they would take this many meds.

Sun, 04/03/2011 - 11:40am Permalink
Anonymous 777777777 (not verified)

i was a patient of schneider and i got my scripts early several times,and i shouldnt have!  and got what i wanted  basically. i do hold the dr responsible for part of my addiction probs cuz he could of denied me instead of increasing my addiction .drs should be trusted not to make u worse but to get u better after they help you  i was kicked out of his clinic cuz i deciced to take a lortab  he gave me that i had leftover after switching to percocets . and i failed a u.a . i was booted out just like that to deal with my now more intense addiction than i had before i met him im now clean but went thru hell and death for along time after im good now thank god .all i know is that im glad the days of me going to his clinic are over ,was a horrible time of my life the drs worse thing he did in my opinion was to not keep a better eye on his patients  its not totally his fault but partly

Thu, 10/06/2011 - 12:47pm Permalink
wy_lobo (not verified)

I have had 4 back fusion's,my sternum split open and most of my bones broken one time or an other I am Totally Permanently disabled. I have worked most all of my life. I have put in well over the 35 years required   to receive social security. I Raised 3 productive kids and helped many more grow and to stay off drugs. Now I have to humiliate myself and sign a contract to count my pills piss in a cup and even buy my pills were they tell me to and then Beg my doctor for a pain Pill. This is unconstitutional they pick individuals with a severe pain illness or disease and discriminate against you the patient and the doctor for treating this real pain and Disabling disabling this enabling microphone listen disablingDisa Disease, because the DEA wants to control every thing. We need to get a class action suit or someone  to help all of us in pain.. My grandmother is 75 years old and dying she has  osteoporosis and lupus she fell a couple weeks ago and broke her hip they pined her hip and sent her home and she is allowed to have one Vicodin per day this is ridiculous. Please everyone call your senators e-mail them do whatever it takes to help our elderly and disabled and people suffering from severe pain I wish I had a hot line or website to send you to but this page is what I found. Thank you

Wed, 12/21/2011 - 7:13pm Permalink

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