February 22, 2002
Asa Hutchinson, Administrator
Dear Administrator Hutchinson:
On behalf of the Cancer Leadership Council, we want to thank you for your thorough and thoughtful response to our concerns about potential regulatory excesses in connection with federal oversight of certain pain medications. (See your November 7 letter responding to September 19 correspondence with Congress.) Your comments were balanced and reassuring to advocates for aggressive control of cancer pain.
Recently, the Congress has completed the Appropriations process for the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), indicating that it expects a targeted approach to potential abuse of OxyContin in rural areas, particularly in certain areas of the southern United States. While we have no objection to rigorous enforcement against abuse of this and other drugs designed to address pain, we also believe it is important to sustain the balanced approach reflected in your November 7 letter. Many of the areas that are most affected by OxyContin abuse are also medically underserved and thus likely to have fewer resources specifically dedicated to pain management, including cancer pain.
We urge you, in the
spirit of collaboration and cooperation that resulted in the October 23rd
Joint Statement, to seek the input of representatives from the health
professional and patient advocacy communities as you formulate strategies
to address illegal use and abuse of pain medications such as OxyContin.
Creating further dialogue with the medical and patient communities would
help to ease the fears of medical professionals that they will be improperly
targeted by the DEA for appropriate use of pain medications. The dialogue
would also help ensure that enforcement strategies will not present barriers
to patients who need to access pain medications. We appreciate your inclusion
of a voluntary health organization in the recent Practitioner's Workgroup
and would encourage you to broaden participation in the future.
Thank you again for your informed interest and involvement in these issues of paramount importance to people with cancer and their caregivers and families.
© 2001-2002 Cancer Leadership Council. All rights reserved.