Washington State Sued Over Pain Medication Guidelines

June 25, 2008 9:19 p.m. PT

Advocacy group sues state over guidelines for pain medications

A pain treatment advocacy group filed suit Wednesday in federal court challenging restrictions Washington state officials have put on prescription pain medication.

The nonprofit Pain Relief Network says that the guidelines for prescribing narcotics, written by the state Department of Health and published in March 2007, have influenced pain treatment across the country and have made doctors afraid to give opiate prescriptions.

Siobhan Reynolds, president of the Pain Relief Network, says the group decided to target Washington because the state has been a leader both in pain treatment and in restricting doctors’ prescriptions of pain relief medication.

The guidelines, which apply only to treatment of chronic pain, not acute pain, cancer pain or hospice care, recommend that a total daily dose of opioids should not exceed 120 milligrams of morphine or its equivalent if both pain and physical function are not improving. More..