Many terminally ill patients are under-treated for pain, according to research studies, and the fear of intolerable suffering is a major reason for public support of assisted suicide. Unfortunately, the Pain Reduction Promotion Act of 1999 (PRPA) would deal a severe blow for pain treatment of chronically ill and dying patients, known as palliative care, some physicians argue.
The primary purpose of PRPA, say critics, is to override the Oregon physician-assisted suicide law and prevent other states from adopting such laws. However, they concede the bill sponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) contains valuable provisions for education and research in palliative care.
How would the PRPA, which would amend the Controlled Substances Act, inhibit palliative care?
However, the current state of affairs is not favorable either:
The PRPA was passed by the House on October 27, 1999, by a vote of 271-156. The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on April 27, 2000, and has returned the bill to the full Senate for further consideration.
Source: David Orentlicher and Arthur Caplan, "The Pain Relief Promotion
Act of 1999: A Serious Threat to Palliative Care,"
Journal of the American Medical Association, January 12, 2000.