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As a growing number of states enact restrictions designed to clamp down on prescription drug abuse, some pain sufferers say they are not able to get the opioids they need, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The issue has pitted drug enforcement and public health officials against some doctors and their patients who are legitimately prescribed pain medicine, according to the article.

Some doctors have stopped writing prescriptions for opioids in reaction to state laws that make physicians criminally liable for writing prescriptions for painkillers that lead to overdoses. In some states, regulations of pain clinics have forced “pill mills” to close, leaving people who need pain medication with fewer prescribers. Pain patients seeking medication call their search for medication “the pharmacy crawl,” the newspaper notes.

Some pharmacies in Florida have stopped carrying opioids, or can’t obtain them from wholesalers, after the Drug Enforcement Administration closed part of a Walgreen’s distribution center earlier this month because the agency said some painkillers were ending up on the black market.

Pain clinics in Texas that write more than half their prescriptions for painkillers must register with the state’s medical board. After that requirement was enacted two years ago, some pain clinic operators unsuccessfully tried to get around the law by marketing themselves as diet centers or wellness clinics. Now, some of these clinics are demanding that customers bring people with them to buy other kinds of medications, to help keep the facilities from rising above the 50 percent threshold for reporting painkiller prescriptions.

This week, the National Alliance for Model Drug Laws, a nonprofit that helps states create laws to prevent prescription drug abuse, is meeting to talk about how to balance the fight against improper opioid prescribing, with maintaining patients’ access to needed pain medication.

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