Steven Schneider of Kansas is the latest doctor in the federal government’s crosshairs for over-prescribing painkillers. Schneider ans his wife (who was also arrested) have enlisted the help of pain activist Siobhan Reynolds and her organization, the Pain Relief Network. Reynolds has mounted an aggressive counter-campaign on behalf of Schneider and his patients (who overwhelmingly support him) that goes so far as to question the constitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act (a move that’s admirable, but not likely to be successful).
State and federal authorities have responded by threatening Reynolds with criminal penalties for practicing law without a license. Schneider’s patients now say federal investigators are illegally entering their homes and intimidating them.
Now several Schneider patients say federal agents are forcing their way into their homes without warrants, asking a lot of questions, and even taking items that don’t belong to them.
“They grabbed the door and jerked it open,” says one patient who spoke to KAKE News on a condition of anonymity. “And then they grabbed my left arm and pulled it up behind me. They said we can do this the easy way or the hard way.”
This patient says the agents even took a hand written letter that Schneider wrote her from prison.
The US Attorney’s Office says they can’t comment on specific cases, but they say a warrant is required in order to search someone’s home or to force a person to hand over something that belongs to them. However, a warrant is not needed to talk to someone or to ask for something.
Schneider’s former patients now can’t find doctors to treat even their ailments not related to pain because of the taint that comes with being the patient of an indicted doctor. No doctor wants to risk his own federal investigation. And merely seeing the patient of a doctor under indictment–particularly a pain patient–is enough to get federal authorities sniffing around your office.
The federal government has been particularly underhanded in this case. Early on, they argued against allowing the Schneiders to have a court-appointed attorney, citing the couple’s $700,000 in assets. Problem is, the government was simultaneously attempting to seize those assets under forfeiture laws, meaning any lawyer who took the case stood a good chance of not getting paid. Which meant the couple’s only real hope was a lawyer willing to take the case pro bono.
As with all of these prosecutions of doctors, it’s entirely possible that there were drug addicts among the couple’s patients. The questions here are (1) are addicts allowed to be treated by doctors, too? (2) should doctors who get duped by addicts be held liable for being gullible? (3) should they be held criminally liable? (4) should drug cops and political appointees with no medical training be dictating the difference between acceptable medical treatment and the criminal prescribing of opioid pain medication?
You can probably guess how I’d answer those questions. Meanwhile, it becomes increasingly difficult for people in chronic pain to find doctors willing to treat them. Everybody is scared. And a promising new treatment–high-dose opioid therapy–is being held hostage by overly aggressive cops and prosecutors.