Interviews with local doctors confirm that patients should, as one physician stated, "talk to their doctors while the FDA decides what to do." However, "Many patients are nervous that tried and true drugs might go off the market, leaving them struggling to manage pain." The physicians who spoke with the Dispatch stressed that patients should not worry excessively but rather "take acetaminophen seriously, read labels, and understand that it's fine as long as it's not taken in excess." Moreover, the Dispatch's sources reached the consensus that "it would be a mistake to take Vicodin and Percocet off the market." Sources at the FDA stated that "Changing dosing regulations on Tylenol would take years [...], and the agency is well aware of the concerns of people who rely on Percocet and Vicodin." FDA spokesperson Karen Riley suggested that "this will be a measured response [...], adding that labeling changes would be an option that could happen relatively quickly." When federal prosecutors served activist and Pain Relief Network president Siobhan Reynolds with an excessively broad subpoena in March of 2009, the unrelenting pain patient advocate hit back with her own motion to quash the order, which she filed on April 9, 2009, according to a May 15 feature in that week's Drug War Chronicle ("ACLU Backs Pain Activist's Effort to Quash Subpoena Issued in Kansas Case").US Assistant Attorney Tanya Treadway has, since 2007, stopped just short of litigationally harrassing Reynolds as a result of advocacy she performed on behalf of pain management physician Steven Schneider, who - along with his wife, Linda Schneider - was arrested in late 2007 after federal agents raided the couple's pain clinic and home in an attempt to prosecute them for "unlawfully prescrib[ing] pain medications." Treadway's most recent subpoena "demands that Reynolds turn over all correspondence with attorneys, patients, Schneider family members, doctors, and others related to the [...] case," as well as "bank and credit card statements showing payments to or from clinic employees, patients, potential witnesses and others, including virtually every attorney Reynolds knows." The Chronicle states that the "subpoena is supposedly part of an obstruction of justice investigation aimed at Reynolds," who "became a thorn in Treadway's side" after she traveled to Kansas to aid the Schneiders, "whom she sees as being hounded by overzealous federal drug warriors." Treadway, on the other hand, views Reynolds' advocacy as evidence of her "sycophantic or parasitic relationship" with Steven and Linda Schneider; the prosecutor claims that Reynold's activism constitutes an attempt to "further the Pain Relief Network's political agenda and her own personal interests." However, according to the ACLU, which stepped in to assist Reynolds with her legal battle, "the subpoena should be withdrawn because it threatens Reynolds' First Amendment rights and amounts to little more than a 'fishing expedition' aimed at finding out information about the Schneider's defense." The civil liberties group filed an amended motion to quash the subpoena in early May of 2009.The re-trial of Doctor William Hurwitz came to an end in July 2007. He was convicted twice of trafficking in narcotics, first in 2004, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Wexler improperly told jurors they could not consider whether Hurwitz acted in 'good faith' when he prescribed large doses of medicine. He has been in jail for about 2 1/2 years." According to the Post, "Patient advocates portrayed Hurwitz as heroic, saying that he only tried to help suffering people who had nowhere else to turn.The doctor's sentence was reduced to less than five years. The Washington Post reported on July 14, 2007 ("VA Pain Doctor's Prison Term Is Cut To 57 Months") that "A prominent pain doctor who received a 25-year prison term three years ago for drug trafficking was re-sentenced yesterday to less than five years by a judge who concluded during his retrial that he helped far more patients than he hurt. An appeals court threw out that verdict last year, saying that prosecutors had presented 'powerful evidence' but that U. Hurwitz, a major figure in the growing field of pain management who was profiled on '60 Minutes,' said he viewed himself the same way as his supporters.They also worry about the fates of the "100 million people currently liv[ing] with pain in the U. Paul Christo, "a pain specialist at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine" told the news outlet, &qout; I think removing pain medication off the market is not the answer and it will expand the epidemic of pain in this country." Moreover, "Christo beileves that painkiller addiction is blown out of proportion." Although he acknowledges that "[p]atients are at risk with opioids and some do get addicted," he does not "think it's as high as the public thinks." He even discusses the ways in which he deals with pain patients who have histories of addiction: the doctor "may still prescribe the meds they need but [he] may also require that they...engage in counseling to prevent relapses," saying that effective monitoring methods do exist.Moreover, Christo states that "The prevalence of any addiction is about 10 percent" - even for those who have never had problems with licit or illicit drug abuse.
Stephen Schneider and wife Linda Schneider, "who were indicted in December 2007 on 34 counts [...] of unlawfully prescribing painkillers and overbilling for services at their clinic in [a] Wichita[, KS] suburb," the Associate Press reported on July 10, 2009 ("DOJ Eyes Kan. The latest in a series of related legal filings, Reynolds' July complaint alleges "possible ethics violations by Justice Department employees," primarily Assistant U. Attorney Tanya Treadway, who - as discussed below - has relentlessly pursued Reynolds over the last few years in hopes of either slapping her with an obstruction of justice charge or using her personal information to gain insight into the Schneider defense team's case. However, as Ohio newspaper the Columbus Dispatch reported on July 20, "Confusion and concern have followed news that the [FDA] is considering" the changes discussed above ("FDA Inquiry into Painkiller Perplexes Patients").
Before sentencing three Purdue Pharma executives next month, U. District Judge James Jones will consider responses to 16 questions he recently submitted to federal prosecutors and company officials.
One of the questions: Why should the executives not be sent to jail?
The second jury found Hurwitz guilty on 16 counts and acquitted him on 17 trafficking counts, and Brinkema dismissed the remaining 12 counts.
Brinkema's sentence was much lower partly because several of the dismissed charges would have brought Hurwitz a minimum prison term of 20 years.