Pain Patients Lose a Leading Advocate, Siobhan Reynolds, 1961-2011

Siobhan Reynolds (left) at 2004 Congressional briefing, with Dr. Frank Fisher, Ron Libby and Maia Szalavitz (photo courtesy PRN)
My friend and colleague Siobhan Reynolds, founder of the Pain Relief Network (PRN), died in a plane crash this weekend outside Columbus, Ohio. The pilot of the plane, her partner Kp Byers, was also a pain activist, an attorney whose practice had focused since 1992 on defending medical professionals caught in the crosshairs of the drug war. Radley Balko has written an extensive tribute to Siobhan, online here. So does Jacob Sullum at Reason.

As Radley has noted and as many others will doubtless note, Siobhan's work organizing media and legal support for patients, doctors, pharmacists and nurses was a courageous one. An article in the New York Times last year by Adam Liptak shows the degree to which prosecutors and even some judges felt threatened by the scrutiny Siobhan and PRN had drawn to their handling of certain cases, and the lengths to which they were willing to abuse legal process to shut her down. Perhaps the daring of riding in a small plane is a mirror of the daring she showed in her career taking on the government.

PRN did shut down last year, the organization's financial resources and Siobhan's own resources depleted by the struggle. But Siobhan was working on forming a new patient advocacy organization, Radley noted. I hope that others will take up that torch in her name. The under-prescribing of opiates to many patients who need them, and the injustice of lengthy mandatory minimum drug sentences being leveled at doctors and others over prescribing practices that at worst are debatable, is one of the most challenging problems in the drug war to take on. There is far too little help -- medical, advocacy, or otherwise -- for the people most deeply affected. Among those people were her husband, the late Sean Greenwood.

The Pain Relief Network still has an online presence, and its home page provides Siobhan's reasons for the organization's closure and her hopes of what could happen in the future. Our own web site has an archive devoted to the pain under-treatment issue, much of the material in it about Siobhan's work.  Also, Siobhan wrote several articles this year on prohibition and the drug war's impact on the doctor-patient relationship, the articles linked to from her web site.

Last but not least, in the YouTube video posted below, "Being Unable to Help," Siobhan talks about what was impossible to do for her husband in the current medical and legal environment. Share it widely.

 

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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This is very sad news.

This is very sad news. Siobhen Reynolds gave so much to people who are unable to advocate for themselves because of chronic pain health issues. If there is ever a time when I'm healthy enough to be able to advocate for people in pain she will be my role model. Thank you Siobhen, may you be in peace.  

She was honest in her desire

She was honest in her desire to help us chronic pain patients.  Sort of a double whammy to me, since I am now a chronic pain patient, who cannot find relief through legal channels! My wife has four different chronic pain problems and can't  get any more efficient treatment than me! 

 

I was one, of the doctors, who lost his practice, over scientifically sound pain management.  That is when I, first, heard of PRN.  Too bad the federal prosecutor destroyed her work!  They don't care about our pain and suffering.(then again, they are cops NOT DOCTORS!) So much for the Hippocratic oath!

She will be missed.

Sincerely

Michael G Langley, MD

Heroes

Truly, we mourn the death of a hero. Her passing saddens us all, but we can only hope that more heroes shall come and that they will pick up the torch where it has fallen and run a good race for those in need.

About the Hippocratic Oath: do you really think doctors care about us anymore? Money and deep-seated corruption have befouled their collective vision. It is a Hypocritical Oath at best.

The Only Voice

Reynolds organization, Pain Relief Network, was really one of the only groups truly committed to protecting the rights of chronic pain sufferers.  Having had pain issues myself, as well as having talked to other chronic pain sufferers, the general consensus is that pain is under-treated, especially since the days of G.W. up to the present.  The only effective drugs that treat pain are so heavily regulated that even terminally-ill patients are oftentimes not adequately treated.

The anti-drug war and pro-marijuana community also tends to downplay the needs of chronic pain sufferers when it comes to opiate drugs, arguing that such drugs are pushed by "big pharma."  In reality, "big pharma" would prefer that folks have neither access to such drugs nor to marijuana, because most opiate drugs can be manufactured and sold cheaply as generics, thereby cutting profits to the big companies.  Instead, they'd like to restrict all these drugs (in addition to marijuana) and give us new and very expensive drugs like Vioxx, Celebrex, or take your pick.  Such drugs, being new and therefore expensive, mean big profits for pharmaceutical companies, especially if more effective opiate drugs are off limits due to exaggerated fears and media hype about overdose deaths, etc.  Despite all the hype, overdose-related deaths from opioid pain medications are still low when compared to the number of folks who use such medications to effectively treat pain-related issues without any problems.

If the government were really worried about preventing overdose deaths from opiates, it would train users of such drugs to look for the signs of overdose and provide naxolene along with every prescription to prevent deaths.  Indeed, this approach can also be applied to true addicts (as opposed to chronic pain patients) and many overdose deaths would undoubtedly be prevented.  If addiction is truly a "disease" as some suggest, then opiate addicts shouldn't be punished anymore than say diabetics and should receive naxolene and training to prevent self-inflicted injuries associated with their drug use just as some diabetics are prescribed insulin to prevent complications from high blood sugar.  If such a suggestion (comparing addicts to diabetics) makes you wince, then you don't really believe addiction is a disease, but a behavioral issue and the whole notion of the "drug" as the evil enslaver of humankind falls apart.  The drug warriors want to have it both ways. 

Pillhead and dealer, Rush Limbaugh

So when does pillhead and dealer Rush Limbaugh stand up for the legalization of marijuana? We know how concerned he is (not) about all those people languishing in jail; heck, he might actually have to work and not lie if they can't be used as slaves on the properties he has. Think that blowhard works as fat as he is? Heck no, never has done a hard days work in his entire worthless lying nazi life. And that is why as an admitted Oxycontin dealer, he will never go to jail either. See? save peasants and tell the truth, the cops will fabricate a criminal history for you and send you up. Go with a bunch of global nazi gangsters and wreck an economy; and the idiots worship at your altar and lap the lying crap up, until they get caught dealing Oxy's and go to jail 16 years. See the difference. . . . !!?

Was it an accident ? Seems

Was it an accident ? Seems convenient this happened to such a dedicated human rights advocate....

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