I am writing in regard to your Aug. 8 article, "Pharmacists need to raise their own drug abuse IQ." Are patients whom we are ready to label as "doctor shoppers" or "drug abusers" really abusing drugs, or are they patients who are just seeking relief from pain that is relentless and compromising their quality of life?

JCAHO established pain management as a major standard in hospitals a few years back. There have been a handful of lawsuits charging physicians with patient abuse for failing to properly manage a patient's pain.

The new Medicare Part D disease management program does nothing to address chronic pain sufferers. There are millions of nonterminal chronic pain patients looking for relief. Studies suggest that addiction is a very minor problem within this patient population.

Pharmacy has talked about disease management for decades, and most disease states require the patients to modify their behavior to produce positive outcomes. Chronic pain patients would welcome being compliant with their drug regimen, if it meant relief from their pain and almost immediate improvement in their quality of life. As a bonus, we could help remove the unjustified label of "drug abuser" from many patients and single out those who deserve the label.

The challenge and the solution are within our reach. Is pharmacy's vision too myopic?

Steven R. Ariens, P.D.
Pharmacist/Business Consultant

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