Medical Activist issued Subpoena by Obama DOJ

Siobhan Reynolds is the president of a New Mexico based 501(c)(3) named the Pain Relief Network (PRN). She became an advocate for pain patients after her husband died of a stroke caused by elevated blood pressure from uncontrolled severe pain in 2006.

To vastly oversimplify Reynold's position, PRN believes activities within the scope of doctor-patient relationships (prescribing of opioid pain medication) should be exempt from the Controlled Substances Act. Her thesis is that the Federal Government has no right to interfere with treatment of pain by physicians.

Reynolds testified before Congress on the topic of pain treatment and the effects of the Bush administration's escalation of prosecutions of physicians prescribing pain medication. PRN claims the overzealous prosecutions have resulted in a chilling effect on physicians treating pain, making them reluctant to provide patients with adequate pain treatment. This in turn reduces the general availability of adequate pain treatment leaving many patients in unnecessary pain.

Reynolds became interested in the case of Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife Linda. The Schneider's operated a clinic in Wichita, Kansas. They were raided and charged with narcotics violations related to prescriptions for pain medication to patients. Their patients were abandoned when prosecutors shut down the clinic. The prosecutors threw in the traditional additional charges of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid (when prosecutors charge physicians with pain medication offenses, they throw in the fraud charges as an convenient enhancement under the reasoning that the prescriptions are for other than medical purposes, thus the fees for those services were fraudulent). The case has bogged down because Federal Judge Monti Belot tried to limit the number of patient deaths AUSA Tanya Treadway could include in the case against the Schneiders. Apparently, Treadway, in the usual strategy of federal prosecutors in these cases, simply tried to charge the Schneiders with causing the death of all patients who died while under their care.

Belot ruled that the government could only include a few cases under that strategy. This angered Treadway, and she filed an appeal which has delayed the trial.

Reynolds brought the PRN message to Schneider's patients' and began to work in the Wichita area educating the public about the alternative view of pain treatment and the government's policies. This infuriated Treadway, and she has worked steadfastly to have PRN and Reynolds silenced and barred from communicating with anyone involved in the case. Treadway has filed motions claiming Reynolds has a "sycophantic" or "parasitic" relationship with the Schneiders.

Apparently, Treadway has decided to take her attack on Reynolds to a new level. She has issued a subpoena to Reynolds to appear before a federal grand jury:

The six page subpoena asks for all correspondence regarding the Schneider medical clinic or the Schneiders and includes a long list of individuals including many local attorneys.
It also asks for documents including checks, bank statements and credit card statements, copies of all telephone bills, and a movie shown to Schneider patients.

Reynolds and PRN are performing activist work in a narrowly defined area in which they have experience and expertise. They seek to educate the public in general, and specifically patients, about how the drug war has violently and indifferently imposed the government's power into the most important relationship people depend on for their health -- their relationship with their doctor.

PRN assists and supports physicians who are charged by drug warriors for legitimately treating pain. AUSA Treadway is engaged in a rather transparent effort to silence Reynolds through harassment and intimidation. Are federal prosecutors allowed to use their power to silence political activists and patient advocates? What is Treadway afraid Reynolds or PRN will accomplish? Why is it so important that this small, underfunded and largely benevolent activist organization be silenced? What do they not want you to hear?

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    Thanks for posting this diary. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Jacob Freeze on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 06:13:58 PM EST
    One of my uncles is dying right now, and it makes the whole question of restrictions on pain medication for terminal patients infinitely more immediate for me.

    Every aspect of this question is buried in decades of political posturing by both of the major political parties, and while they perform their absurd media acrobatics to make themselves look like tougher drug-warriors than the other guys, thousands of people suffer unspeakable pain, which they would have almost certainly avoided in any other developed country.

    This is a tough cause (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by JamesTX on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 09:53:07 PM EST
    to work on. The opioid propaganda started over a hundred years ago, so most people don't know much about it. Medical marijuana support comes from the fact that there are still people around who remember a different attitude. The opioid propaganda has had three generations to work, and work it has. Nobody even questions the lies anymore. Death and illnesses involving chronic pain are about to become as dreaded as they were prior to our ability to treat pain, but people won't find out about the problems until it is too late. It's the same old American complacency of assuming all is working well, in spite of the fact that every time scrutiny is applied the system it is found to be rotten to the core!

    Bush? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jacob Freeze on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 10:38:52 PM EST
    I was surprised to see George W. Bush has a couple of of mildly progressive entries in the history of US drug laws...

    2005: 08-02-2005 Public law 109-56, Amends the Controlled Substances Act to eliminate the 30-patient limit for medical group practices allowed to dispense narcotic drugs in schedules III, IV, or V for maintenance or detoxification treatment (retains the 30-patient limit for an individual physician). This amendment removes the 30-patient limit on group medical practices that treat opioid dependence with buprenorphine. The restriction was part of the original Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (DATA) that allowed treatment of opioid dependence in a doctor's office. With this change, every certified doctor may now prescribe buprenorphine up to his or her individual physician limit of 30 patients.

    2006: On 12/29/2006 President Bush signed Bill H.R.6344 into law. This allows physicians who have been certified to prescribe certain drugs for the treatment of opioid dependence under DATA2000 to treat up to 100 patients (up from 30) by submitting an "intent" notification to the Dept of Health and Human Services. This is a major step forward in both fighting the stigma and allowing access to treatment previously not available to some. For more details see 30/100-PATIENT LIMIT

    But the prisons are still swarming with non-violent drug offenders, and heroin still can't be prescribed for terminal patients.

    Thanks for staying on this issue. It gets almost no play at all in the MSM or blogosphere, and yet it eventually touches almost everybody.


    Actually this is (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by JamesTX on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 09:37:49 AM EST
    no blessing. They can only prescribe it for 6 months, meaning the only role it plays is to document the person as an "addict" and cut them off. It is particularly gruesome when it is the last resort for treating chronic pain, and the docs put them in it to process them out.

    No! That's impossible! (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Jacob Freeze on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 12:16:51 PM EST
    But of course you're right, and I just missed it in the little summary of drug laws that I linked.

    But still...

    It doesn't sound real to me, and every time I see video of the top drug warriors at the DEA and elsewhere, they have a peculiar fixity that I associate with the some of the scarier lunatics in Union Square... steel-eyed fanatics explaining how commies are poisoning all the wells in Montana.

    And they can always prove it with a hundred different arguments, if only you could spare 10 weeks to hear them all!

    But God knows no amount of those mostly harmless loonies, and not all the serial killers in the United States along with them, have destroyed as many lives as the DEA.


    Thanks for the (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by JamesTX on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 02:22:33 PM EST
    feedback. I thought I would change the title to take advantage of Jeralyn's catchy reference. I think it is important to start linking the "business as usual" business to his name. He shouldn't continue to get progressive praise when he isn't behaving like a progressive leader.