Letters to the Editor

The idea that thousands of physicians are flouting NC opioid law is ‘simply false’

Thousands of NC doctors still overprescribing opioids” (May 6) is based on data that does not accurately reflect whether the prescriptions were appropriate. Instead, its sensational message casts physicians in an unnecessarily negative light, ignoring the positive steps being taken to stem the toll of the opioid abuse epidemic in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) fully supported the STOP Act, and along with the NC Medical Board and other organizations, have been educating physicians about the new rules.

As the Medical Board and the NC Department of Health and Human Services said in a joint statement in response to the article: “At no point has either agency expressed that any prescriber is violating state law, and suggesting such is a gross mischaracterization of the facts.”

Actually, data suggest physicians are rapidly making the shift in how they treat both acute and chronic pain as they take the newly required educational courses on opioid prescribing. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina’s raw data show the trend is moving in the right direction, with a full 25 percent reduction in total prescriptions written above STOP Act limits since the end of 2017. If this trend continues, we hope to see minimal numbers of such claims by the end of this year.

Physicians have owned their past role in a pharmaceutical philosophy that endorsed ‘safe’ opioids to meet what we now know were unreasonable and, at times, harmful expectations for pain relief. By oath, physicians’ primary responsibility is the welfare of their patients.

To suggest that thousands of physicians are flouting the law to the detriment of their patients is simply false. To truly address this crisis requires positive action on many fronts, not finger-pointing or stoking fears of unlawful behavior.

Robert W. Seligson

CEO, North Carolina Medical Society

‘Hypocritical’ signs

Regarding “Bill would put ‘In God We Trust’ sign in schools” (May 18): It’s an election year, and what better time for legislators to exhibit what a God-centered group they are.

But rather than forcing schools to display signs proclaiming “In God We Trust” and issuing license plates trumpeting the same, our elected officials should be passing budgets that reflect that trust and allocate the majority of the state’s resources to helping our most vulnerable: the sick, the homeless, the disabled, single moms, the imprisoned, immigrants and refugees.

Until that happens, the most that can be said of our legislators’ hypocritical posturing can be found in the words of Jesus of Nazareth quoting the prophet Isaiah: “These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

Joe Moran

Durham

‘New ideas’ needed

Regarding “Cooper urges raises for teachers, state workers” (May 11): Great. I see that Gov. Roy Cooper wants the state to spend almost one billion dollars more on his budget compared with the proposed one by the state legislature. There are two ways to accomplish this: Raise taxes or go into debt. Previous Democratic administrations preferred both.

Why would the people of North Carolina want this? Why would the governor want it? The problem is he is still a holdover from the old Democratic machine. The Democrats in North Carolina need new leaders and new ideas just like they do on a national basis.

Hylton Lawrence

Dunn

‘Natural allies?’

To the author of the letter to the editor “‘Offended’ by rally” (May 21) in which she shares her resentment of teachers protesting for higher pay and better working conditions since the author, as a state employee, is also paid poorly and “lives paycheck to paycheck,” I would only say: This is exactly what plutocrats and politicians want – teachers and other working people fighting each other for crumbs while they enjoy more tax cuts, low capital gains taxes, mortgage deductions on their huge properties and other advantages they regard as their birthright.

This has all gone hand-in-hand with the systematic decimation of unions, the denial of strikes by public employees, etc. As the cover story “The Birth of a New Aristocracy” has it in this month’s Atlantic magazine: “Wealth always preserves itself by dividing the opposition.”

Andrew Hidas

Durham

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