Addiction: Sacred Symbol of the Therapeutic State
William E. Hurwitz, a physician in Northern Virginia, was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 25, 2003, “on charges that he led a broad conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription narcotics across the nation, resulting in the deaths of at least three patients,” (“N.Va. Doctor Indicted In OxyContin Scheme,” Sept. 26, 2003).
Hurwitz was convicted by a federal jury on December 15, 2004 (“Pain Doctor Convicted of Drug Charges,” Washington Post, December 16, 2004).
Physicians prescribing opioids like Oxycontin to patients in pain are reluctant to do so because they fear they will be harassed or arrested by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Hurwitz’s prescribing practices were not, in my opinion, the real issue here. Judging Hurwitz’s prescribing practices masks the fact that doctors and patients cannot form their own relationships and do what they want to do. The Hurwitz case obscures the fact that the state has no right to protect people from themselves. Oxycontin is considered a “dangerous” drug because it allegedly causes “addiction.” The state is a dangerous drug.
Drugs are neither good nor bad, safe nor dangerous. Doctors and patients have a right to form and uphold their own contracts. If narcotics were available on the free market, “the drug problem” would cease to exist. A person has just as much a right to put whatever substance he wants into his body, as he does to put whatever idea he wants into his mind.
(People who argue for “medical marijuana” obscure the real issues in a similar way. Medical marijuana pushers (MMP) argue that marijuana is a safe drug, not a dangerous drug: But marijuana is neither safe nor dangerous, good nor bad, just as Oxycontin is neither safe nor dangerous, good nor bad. MMP are lying. They are a problem masquerading as a solution.)
Similarly, the DEA is hurting patients, not doctors, in it’s zeal to persecute and arrest physicians for what it considers inappropriate prescribing practices. Clearly, the Directors of the DEA place a higher value on protecting people from themselves, than on protecting people in pain and in need of the relief that only opioids can bring. In this way, the DEA is no longer a public servant, but a public enemy, working against the public interest and welfare. Congress has a responsibility to remedy the problem.
“Va. Doctor Defends Prescribing Pain Pills,” Dec. 7, 2004.
“Specialists Decry DEA Reversal on Pain Drugs,” Washington Post, December 21, 2004,
“Pain Doctor 'Cavalier,' Jury Foreman Says ,” Washington Post, December 21, 2004,
“New Drug Is Approved To Treat Chronic Pain,” Washington Post, December 29, 2004.
“OxyContin Information: FDA Strengthens Warnings for OxyContin.”