LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As America battles the opioid crisis, people in serious pain who need the medicine are getting caught in the middle.

Darren Singer is one of a growing number of patients with chronic pain who say they are having trouble getting the medications they desperately need. Many say they are becoming unintended victims in the fight against opioid abuse and addiction.

“They say greed is a motivator for people. Try pain and see how motivated people are,” he said. “Here, I have a real condition. It’s really painful. And I’m getting to the point where I am almost stuck.”

Singer has a degenerative neck issue he will have to manage for life.

His physician, Dr. Michael Hirt, says treatment has become increasingly challenging because of access to medication.

“The patients who really need drugs can’t get them and the doctors who need to write them are afraid to write them,” he said.

For the third year in a row, the Drug Enforcement Agency has put caps on how much opioid medication pharmaceutical companies can make. In 2017 and 2018, the mandate was a 25 percent and 20 percent reduction. This year, production will be 10 percent less on average. Dr. Hirt says this approach is hurting the people who actually need the medication.

“So people with really legitimate, honest pain, post-operative trauma, chronic … pain, can’t get the drugs that they need,” he said. “There’s sort of a misnomer that once you’re on opioids you’re addicted to them. That really doesn’t happen for most patients who have legitimate pain.”

Patients like Singer say because of the new rule they have to see their doctors monthly to get their prescriptions. When they do, they say they’re often told their medication is out of stock indefinitely, or they are questioned about if they need the medication at all.

Comments (2)
  1. Antoinette Ojeda-Pittario says:

    It has truly become a nightmare for those of us that use opioids to try and manage chronic pain. I am also prescribed by my doctor this medication. I have had surgery, I have done physical therapy, acupuncture and any other treatments they have asked me to do. It seems like every month when I need to have a prescription filled it gets harder and harder. Pharmacist question you like you are a criminal. It is something different every month. I did not ask to be put on this medication. I understand that there have been problems, but if a doctor is prescribing this medication, I don’t feel we should be interrogated and treated so poorly every time we need to get our medication filled.

  2. Betty Davis Horton says:

    There are millions of Chronic Pain Patients in this country going through this same thing and much worse. Suicide rates for CPPS have skyrocketed in the last few years due to patients being tapered or totally taken off the life giving/lifesaving meds they need to have a semi normal life. Pain patients DO NOT get high from their meds. Google it. It has to do with the receptors in your brain. Our Veterans that fought for our country to be free have had their pain medication totally taken away and left to suffer. Our elderly have had their pain medications tapered or taken away and left to suffer. This is disgraceful in a country that is supposed to be the “greatest” in the world. It is because of the greed of some people, the erroneous information coming from our government agencies and that information being deliberately misconstrued by ” other” government agencies, that millions of law abiding citizens in this country are being left to suffer and die for no reason! This is genocide at its worst!

    Join us at Don’tpunishpainrally.com to fight this travesty.

    A Chronic Pain Patient for 17 years.

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