“Pain Patient Advocate Siobhan Reynolds Dies in Plane Crash” – where are pain advocates now?


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Pain Patient Advocate Siobhan Reynolds Dies in Plane Crash

From a blog by Jacob Sullum Dec. 26, 2011 –  almost two years ago. Things are so much worse.

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I am late writing about Siobhan Reynolds, but have just become aware of this article. Her work merits attention.

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Siobhan Reynolds’ famous defense of persons with pain –

and doctors who treat pain – won her persecution in the courts.

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When the Pain Relief Network was bankrupted by government injustice, she wrote:

“People in pain are still being abused, neglected, and

left to die by the entire system.

Physicians brave enough to treat chronic pain

continue to be intimidated and prosecuted.”

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“In the process she made an enemy of Tanya Treadway, a federal prosecutor whose vindictive grand jury investigation of Reynolds (which never resulted in criminal charges) drove the Pain Relief Network out of business.”

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“… Illustrating that abuse and the lack of transparency that allowed it, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit sealed Reason’s brief (now available here), which was based entirely on publicly available information, along with all the other documents in the case, including the court’s own ruling. Some of that material was unsealed after Reynolds asked the Supreme Court to intervene, but it ultimately declined to hear the case.”

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“What was it that so offended Treadway? Reynolds organized protests in response to Treadway’s prosecution of Kansas doctor Stephen Schneider. She talked to his patients and urged them to tell their stories. Her group sponsored a billboard in Wichita that proclaimed “Dr. Schneider never killed anyone.” It produced a documentary that dramatized the conflict between drug control and pain control. In short, Reynolds vigorously exercised her First Amendment rights, and she did so in a way that discomfited people in power, highlighting the human impact of their decisions. Treadway’s effort to intimidate Reynolds is a tribute to her courage, persistence, and effectiveness.”

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Please read his article about her accomplishments. It is linked above in blue title.

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She was an unsung hero and we will all suffer because this abuse of power continues to grow.

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Time Magazine wrote:

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Champion of Pain Relief,

Siobhan Reynolds Dead in Plane Crash

The pain community loses a pioneering activist

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“All of us are irreplaceable to someone—but few are irreplaceable in the public sphere.  Siobhan Reynolds, 50, founder of the Pain Relief Network, who died in a plane crash Christmas Eve, was the exception. She tirelessly, compassionately and at huge financial and emotional cost to herself, worked to debunk myths about opioid treatment of chronic pain that continue to emerge even now.”

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Another publication on her life and accomplishments, says more about her work:

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“I met Reynolds several years ago when I attended a forum on Capitol Hill on the under-treatment of pain. Her story about her husband’s chronic pain was so heartbreaking it moved me to take an interest in the issue. I eventually commissioned and edited a paper on the DEA and pain treatment while I was working for Cato.”

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“Reynolds was tireless and fierce. She ran her advocacy group the Pain Relief Network on a thin budget. She often used her own money to travel to towns and cities where she felt prosecutors were unfairly targeting a doctor. Then she’d fight back. And sometimes she’d win”

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“The DEA and federal prosecutors she fought weren’t really accustomed to that.

They were accustomed to holding self-promoting press conferences

where they’d hold up big bags of pills,

thus winning glowing write-ups from doting, unskeptical journalists”

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[emphasis mine]

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“Reynolds put those bags of pills into context. She talked about the lives made livable with opiate therapy. She encouraged pain patients whose lives these doctors saved to speak up and speak out. And she educated journalists.”

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“She encouraged pain patients

whose lives these doctors saved to speak up and speak out.”

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[emphasis mine]

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I see many patients who have been literally attacked by doctors,

doctors who will **not** treat their pain.

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Not one patient I know in 40 years is speaking up.

Will you donate $5.00  for pain research or advocacy?

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.See the mechanism to donate at top of this page – it does not go to me!

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“There aren’t very many people who can claim that they’ve personally changed the public debate about an issue. Reynolds could. Before her crusade, no one was really talking about the under-treatment of pain. The media was still wrapped up in scare stories about “accidental addiction” to prescription painkillers and telling dramatic (and often false) tales about patients whose lazy doctors got them hooked on Oxycontin. Reynolds toured the country to point out that, in fact…”

“the real problem is that pain patients are suffering,

particularly patients with long-term chronic pain.

And because of the government’s harassment,

there are increasingly fewer doctors willing to treat them.”

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[emphasis mine]

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[Quite a few pain specialists nearby

 are walking away from their practices.

It is so much worse in the 20 months since she was killed.]

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“Thanks to Reynolds, the major newsweeklies, the New York Times, and a number of other national media outlets began asking if the DEA’s war on pain doctors had gone too far.”

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“Reynolds’ passion stemmed from watching her ex-husband agonize from his pain, and later her belief that his death was due to his inability to get treatment. She was haunted by the prospect that her son could inherit the same condition and face the same obstacles. What infuriated her most was that this was never a problem of not knowing what relieves chronic pain. This wasn’t about the need for more research. [I disagree. If the government will not allow opioids for chronic noncancer pain, what are they recommending we prescribe for pain?] Her husband had found relief in high-dose opioid therapy. The problem was that in its ceaseless efforts to stop people from getting high, the government had blocked that relief, imprisoned the doctor who administered it, and thus condemned her husband to suffer. (Watch The Chilling Effect, the movie Reynolds produced about her ex-husband’s fight here.)”

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“Reynolds was admirably persistent. I often thought she was often a bit too idealistic, or at least that she set her goals too high. She told me once that she wouldn’t consider her work done until the Supreme Court declared the Controlled Substances Act unconstitutional. That’s an admirable goal, but not a particularly practical one. She often frustrated efforts to build a coalition on the issue because…”

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“she’d grown weary of medical organizations and academics who,

while concerned about the issue, she thought were

too cowardly to take a more aggressive stand.”

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[emphasis mine]

 

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“But Reynolds did begin to win her battles. She deserves a good deal of the credit for getting Richard Paey out of prison. She got some sentences overturned, and connected accused doctors to attorneys who know the proper way to fight for them in court. That led to some acquittals….”

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“…When Reynolds began a campaign on behalf of Kansas physician Stephen Schneider, who had been indicted for over-prescribing painkillers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway launched a blatantly vindictive attack on Reynolds’ right to free speech. Treadway opened a criminal investigation into Reynolds and her organization, attempting to paint Reynolds’ advocacy as obstruction of justice. Treadway then issued a sweeping subpoena for all email correspondence, phone records, and other documents that, had Reynolds complied, would have meant the end of her organization. Treadway wanted records of Reynolds’ private conversations with attorneys, doctors, and pain patients and their families. It was unconscionable. The government was demanding that she turn over all records of her conversations with suffering patients. (Some of whom undoubtedly sought out extra-legal ways to relieve their pain, since the government had made it impossible for them to find legal relief.)

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So Reynolds fought the subpoena, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And she lost. Not only did she lose, but the government, with compliance from the federal courts, was able to keep the entire fight sealed. The briefs for the case are secret. The judges’ rulings are secret. Reynolds was barred from sharing her own briefs with the press. Perversely, Treadway had used the very grand jury secrecy intended to protect Reynolds as a gag to censor her. The case was a startling example not only of how far a prosecutor will go to tear down a critic, but of how much power they have to do so.

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The sad thing is that it worked. The Pain Relief Network went under. Reynolds also lost a good deal of her own money. She was never charged with any crime. But that was never the point. It was a transparent and malicious effort to neutralize a pestering critic. And it was successful.  (I wrote a piece for Slate on Treadway’s vendetta against Reynolds.) Despite all that, the last time I spoke with Reynolds she working on plans to start a new advocacy group for pain patients.

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Reynolds was an unwearying, unwavering activist for personal freedom. She not only became a martyr for the rights of pain patients, but also for free expression and political dissent.

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And she died fighting.

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Rest in peace.

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UPDATE: More tributes to Reynolds from Jacob Sullum, David Borden, and Robert Higgs. Higgs quotes from an email he sent to Reynolds two days before her death:

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You have had no way to have known, but you have been one of my heroes (and I have very few) ever since I learned, more or less by chance, about your efforts on behalf of people denied pain relief by the whole congeries of sadistic government laws, functionaries, and activities aimed at keeping them in pain. I have the greatest respect for you and the few others who have the courage to do something concrete to fight the power.

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Please accept my very best wishes for a happy Christmas and for better days to come. And please know, too, of the great esteem in which I hold you.

 

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An article on her fight in Slate, December 2010:

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The Worst Kind of Ham Sandwich

The vindictive grand jury investigation of pain-relief advocate Siobhan Reynolds.

 

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And finally,.Rick Moran writing of her in American Thinker, says:

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“No one is saying that these issues are not complicated and that dealing honestly and forthrightly with them isn’t fraught with the possibility of unintended consequences. But the relief of pain, if viewed as a medical problem and not a criminal problem, is relatively easy, cheap, and would improve the quality of life of millions around the world.”.

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The author Jacob Sullum’s bio from Reason.com blog, the first article:

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“Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and Reason.com and a nationally syndicated columnist.

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Sullum is the author of two critically acclaimed books: Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use (Tarcher/Penguin, 2004) and For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health (Free Press, 1998).

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Sullum’s weekly column, distributed by Creators Syndicate, is carried by newspapers across the U.S., including the New York Post and the Chicago Sun-Times. His work also has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cigar Aficionado, National Review, and many other publications. He blogs about drug policy for Forbes.

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Saying Yes has been praised by both sides of the political spectrum. National Review called it “a highly effective debunking,” and Mother Jones described it as “a healthy dose of sober talk in a debate dominated by yelping dopes.”

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For Your Own Good also was widely praised by reviewers, who called it “compelling” (The Wall Street Journal), “meticulously logical” (The New York Times), and a “cogent and thorough…must-read” (The Washington Post).

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Sullum is a frequent guest on TV and radio networks, including Fox News Channel, CNN and NPR. A fellow of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, he has been a featured speaker at the International Conference on Drug Policy Reform and the Conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy.

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In 1988 Sullum won the Keystone Press Award for investigative reporting, and in 1991 he received First Prize in the Felix Morley Memorial Journalism Competition. In 1998 his Reason cover story about pain treatment was a National Magazine Award finalist in the Public Interest category. In 2004 he received the Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties, and in 2005 he received the Drug Policy Alliance’s Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement in the Field of Journalism. His 2007 Reason essay “Thank Deng Xiaoping for Little Girls” won first place for commentary or feature in the Southern California Journalism Awards.”

 

 

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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It is not legal for me to provide medical advice without an examination.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

 

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