In reading your series on abuses of prescription drugs, I wonder whether you have thought of the negative consequences of repeatedly trumpeting this "crisis" on the front page. There is no question that some people are going to over-medicate themselves with both legal and non-legal substances, and I applaud those physicians who take it upon themselves to look twice at patients.
But whether all this adds up to a public health emergency that could be eliminated by Big Brother is doubtful. Meanwhile, studies have shown that many patients are under-prescribed pain relief because of physicians' fears of being investigated.
Causing hysteria about the dangers of what are in fact necessary medications is reminiscent of our war on drugs, and we all know how well that succeeded.
After reading your well-written story on the state's poor tracking of physicians who overprescribe narcotic pain medications, I decided to visit the California Medical Board's website and look up the profiles of the two doctors The Times identifies as improperly providing narcotics to patients. I wanted to verify that both Dr. Tyron Reece and Dr. Nathan Kuemmerle were identified as physicians who had either disciplinary action or had lost their license.
I was truly surprised to find that only Kuemmerle was so listed, with a felony conviction. When I verified Reece, lo and behold, I found a sterling record.
Why does this happen? How many dollars does it take to enter data for the comparatively few physicians who have lost their licenses or have been disciplined?