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Letter: Don't forget some need pain meds

Oxycodone tablets being dispensed in a pharmacy. (Jan.

Oxycodone tablets being dispensed in a pharmacy. (Jan. 12, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

While your impatience with Albany's efforts to deal with prescription drug misuse is understandable ["Pill-tracking law is overdue," Editorial, Feb. 29], the proposed solutions may have substantial risks for patients in need of pain medicines.

New programs to track narcotic painkillers could have a chilling effect on the willingness of doctors to provide appropriate pain management for their patients. This should be cause for public concern.

Tracking prescriptions would only address, at most, one-third of the misuse and abuse of narcotic painkillers. These pills, when used recreationally, are overwhelmingly obtained from families' and friends' medicine cabinets. It is important to remember that these drugs were initially prescribed for medically appropriate reasons.

While Albany should tackle the problem, it is vital that lawmakers act comprehensively. Such an approach would boost enforcement and monitoring efforts and help reduce inappropriate use of legally prescribed medicines, while at the same time ensuring timely and needed medications for patients in pain.

Arthur A. Levin, Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is the director of the Center for Medical Consumers, a patient advocacy organization.