KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

DEA Crackdown On Nursing Home Drugs Comes Under Congressional Scrutiny

The New York Times previews a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday where nursing home operators and caregivers will criticize a narcotics crackdown by the Drug Enforcement Administration that they say "has left seriously ill patients crying for pain relief. The D.E.A. says it is merely enforcing the law that requires pharmacies to wait for prescriptions that are signed by physicians before dispensing potent painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet and morphine. ... Now many of the nation's nursing homes report delays of a day or more in getting pain drugs to patients, according to the Quality Care Coalition for Patients in Pain, a group set up by nursing home operators, pharmacists and nursing groups. ... Nearly two million people live in the nation's 16,000 nursing homes, the Census Bureau says. Surveys show pain management is an issue for 40 to 85 percent of them, and Medicare says they often need more pain relief" (Wilson, 3/23).

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