Friday, June 24, 2005

A Painful Omission
Nellie B
A Painful Omission

Granted, covering annual meetings of big organizations is a big, boring job, and pretty much everything that happens is already in the presskit, just awaiting a few more quotes and a quick rewrite. But, by golly, there was some actual news percolating at the American Medical Association's annual meeting in Chicago, and practically everybody missed it. (Thanks to The News Blog.)

While the AP headlined "AMA to Seek Limits on Tanning, Video Games," The Chicago Tribune did a little better by telling its readers: "The American Medical Association voted Monday to put its weight behind legislative initiatives around the United States that would require pharmacies to fill legally valid prescriptions in the wake of recently publicized refusals by pharmacists opposed to dispensing the morning-after contraceptive."

But the problem actually goes well beyond that, reports MedPage Today in its story "AMA: Physicians Charge Pharmacists With Interference in Medical Care":

"It's not just contraceptives," said Mary Frank, M.D., a family physician from Mill Valley, Calif., during a discussion of the issue. "It's pain medications and psychotropics. And not only are the patients not getting prescriptions filled, but pharmacists are refusing to return the prescriptions and they are lecturing the patients about the drugs."

Excuse me? Pharmacists are denying patients needed pain relief and mental-health medication prescribed by their doctors? And nobody is covering this? Well, NPR did have a brief item, but I've been unable to find any followup coverage on either the veracity or the depth of the problem. Sure, chronic pain is significantly less sexy than contraception -- or tanning beds and video games, for that matter -- but it might actually be a little bit newsworthy. Ya think?