Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Patient Commentary

US opioid epidemic: it’s harder to get the painkillers I legitimately need

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 15 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j784
  1. Kelly Young, president, Rheumatoid Patient Foundation, Cocoa, FL, USA
  1. kelly{at}

The crackdown on misuse of prescription drugs has had unfortunate consequences for people with legitimate needs in the US. Stricter laws have made access to controlled medications more difficult. Patients wonder whether restricting their access is necessary to reduce illicit drug use when the misconduct of physicians running for-profit “pill mills” has been responsible for most misuse.1

In 2011 my doctor was no longer allowed to order my prescription electronically; instead I had to carry it to the pharmacist. Soon after, my regular drive through pharmacy insisted that I come inside the store with identification. These were minor inconveniences, but everyone acted more cautiously.

The next indication that Florida’s climate had changed was more disturbing. At my sixth appointment for spinal radiofrequency ablation, I …

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