The Supreme Court of the United States just issued a ruling that will make it more difficult for prosecutors to bring charges against physicians on the grounds that they violated the Controlled Substances Act. In a 6–3 vote, SCOTUS rejected lower courts’ convictions of a pair of pain specialists in Alabama and Arizona. Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion expressed that the existing regulatory language is “ambiguous.” It went on to advise that future prosecutorial efforts must prove that a physician knowingly prescribed pain treatment that “lacked medical purpose.” While this ruling clearly will ease the concern of many prescribers who could be hesitant to prescribe needed medication, it should not ease concerns that prescribing opiates could ultimately cause damage to the patient. JUCM has addressed the widespread problem of addiction to pain medications; you can read The Potential Role of Urgent Care in Addressing the Opiate Epidemic in our archive right now.
It’s Now Harder for Physicians to Be Prosecuted for Opioid Rxs—but That Doesn’t Diminish the Risks