Federal and state government efforts to reduce prescription opioids are inadvertently harming chronic pain patients. Many patients are involuntarily cut off medications that improve their lives or say they are unable to find a doctor willing to care for them.

In the last decade, hundreds of thousands of Americans died of drug overdoses each year. By some estimates, nearly half of these deaths have involved prescription opioids. To stem this crisis, government authorities have mounted aggressive attempts to reduce the use of these medicines. They have investigated physicians who prescribe them for no legitimate medical reason and increased monitoring of prescribing by physicians. Some state governments and Medicaid programs have imposed strict upward limits on the dosage physicians are allowed to prescribe.