My friend and colleague Siobhan Reynolds, founder of the Pain Relief Network (PRN), died in a plane crash this weekend outside Columbus, Ohio. The pilot of the plane, her partner Kp Byers, was also a pain activist, an attorney whose practice had focused since 1992 on defending medical professionals caught in the crosshairs of the drug war. Radley Balko has written an extensive tribute to Siobhan, online here. So does Jacob Sullum at Reason.
As Radley has noted and as many others will doubtless note, Siobhan's work organizing media and legal support for patients, doctors, pharmacists and nurses was a courageous one. An article in the New York Times last year by Adam Liptak shows the degree to which prosecutors and even some judges felt threatened by the scrutiny Siobhan and PRN had drawn to their handling of certain cases, and the lengths to which they were willing to abuse legal process to shut her down. Perhaps the daring of riding in a small plane is a mirror of the daring she showed in her career taking on the government.
PRN did shut down last year, the organization's financial resources and Siobhan's own resources depleted by the struggle. But Siobhan was working on forming a new patient advocacy organization, Radley noted. I hope that others will take up that torch in her name. The under-prescribing of opiates to many patients who need them, and the injustice of lengthy mandatory minimum drug sentences being leveled at doctors and others over prescribing practices that at worst are debatable, is one of the most challenging problems in the drug war to take on. There is far too little help -- medical, advocacy, or otherwise -- for the people most deeply affected. Among those people were her husband, the late Sean Greenwood.
The Pain Relief Network still has an online presence, and its home page provides Siobhan's reasons for the organization's closure and her hopes of what could happen in the future. Our own web site has an archive devoted to the pain under-treatment issue, much of the material in it about Siobhan's work. Also, Siobhan wrote several articles this year on prohibition and the drug war's impact on the doctor-patient relationship, the articles linked to from her web site.
Last but not least, in the YouTube video posted below, "Being Unable to Help," Siobhan talks about what was impossible to do for her husband in the current medical and legal environment. Share it widely.
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