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The Government's Cure for the Opioid Epidemic May Be Worse Than the Disease

• http://reason.com, Zach Weissmueller

Politicians and journalists often tell a story about greedy pharmaceutical companies that turned doctors into dealers and patients into addicts. And now, we're told, tens of thousands of Americans are dying of overdoses every year because of government inaction.

If this is truly an epidemic, the diagnosis is wrong in a few major ways. And the cure prescribed by the government is making the disease worse.

Pain and Suffering

Dr. Forest Tennant is one of the last doctors in America willing to treat pain patients using high doses of opioid painkillers. He operates out of a strip mall in West Covina, California. And he's contacted by patients from all over the country on a daily basis, pleading with him to treat them because nobody else will.

But in a matter of months, thanks in part to increased pressure in the government's war on opioids, he may be closing his clinic's doors, which have been open since 1975.

When Reason did a story on Tennant's clinic in 2017, his patients spoke of how government restrictions on opioid use were causing legitimate pain patients to suffer needlessly. Four months after we ran that story, the DEA raided Tennant's clinic and home. The search warrant accused him of overprescribing medication and accepting payoffs from the pharmaceutical company INSYS. Tennant has earned speaking fees from the company as recently as 2015, which he says is standard practice.

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