Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Tag: department of health


Seeking the delicate balance on prescription painkillers

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

When prescribing opiates, the stakes are as high as they come. These powerful drugs can enable pain-ridden patients to work and live normal lives. They can also kill people.

Washington’s health authorities have struggled to come up with rules that would maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks of methadone, oxycodone, Oxycontin, Percocet and similar drugs.

This year has brought a belated new tracking system and an about-face on methadone that both promise to save lives. But it’s also brought a brace of new restrictions that’s been making it harder for some

Read more »


Will patients be sacrificed in opiate crackdown?

Hydrocodone, the addictive narcotic that is the key ingredient in Vicodin and other medicines, is an often-abused prescription painkiller. (The Associated Press)

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The state Department of Health is attempting a tough balancing act as it tightens the rules on prescription opiates.

Thousands of Washingtonians who suffer from severe chronic pain depend on these powerful painkillers. Unfortunately, common drug-seekers also hunger for Oxycontin, Vicodin, methadone and the like, and they often get them by conning doctors, buying them on the street or simply stealing them.

Prescribing practices got looser in the 1990s after it became clear that the medical profession wasn’t treating pain aggressively enough. But the loosening went too far, producing a dramatic rise in overdose poisonings.

The 2010 Legislature told the Department of Health to crack down, and the department has adopted new regulations – to take effect in January – designed to prevent abuses.

Many doctors and patients are worried. As of January, physicians who prescribe opiates for chronic, noncancer pain will have to maintain health histories that document a multitude of factors, including their patients’ psychiatric conditions; past addictions; “risk of significant adverse events, including falls or fractures”; and “the effect of the pain on physical and psychological function.”
Read more »