Fort Smith, Arkansas

By Dug Begley

October 7, 2006

(ROLAND, OKLAHOMA) — A Mississippi physician who practices on weekends in eastern Oklahoma has challenged state officers with the Drug Enforcement Administration because of their treatment of him during a licensing dispute.

Dr. Ronald Myers, founder of the American Pain Institute and a self-proclaimed “medical missionary,” has complained DEA agents unfairly singled him out early last month when they told local pharmacies not to fill his prescriptions.

“They told me I needed to get a DEA number,” he said, referring to a DEA registration number all doctors must possess to prescribe controlled drugs. “I told them I already had a number and they said, ‘You need another.’”

However, Myers said he checked with the DEA in Washington and was told he did not need a number. When he informed the Tulsa office, Myers said, he was again told he needed to have an Oklahoma DEA number to prescribe pain medication in the state.

“I’m the only doctor in the state that has to have two numbers,” Myers said.

Myers said he applied for a Oklahoma DEA number under protest, which he received Oct. 2.

But, he said, he still has grave concerns about the three-week period when his patients could not get their prescriptions filled.

“It’s ridiculous,” Myers said of the delay. “It needs to stop because people are suffering.”

Myers said while he understands doling out pain medication comes with added scrutiny from the DEA, the treatment he received from the DEA was “unacceptable.”

“They would not even work with me, when it was their mistake,” Myers said.

Officials with the Tulsa office referred questions to the public affairs office in Washington. Rogene Waite, a spokeswoman for the DEA, said she could not comment specifically on Myers’ case, or even if DEA officials had a pending investigation.

However, Waite said federal law is clear.

“If you are prescribing controlled substances, you would have to be registered in both states,” Waite said.

If a doctor was operating in two states, she said, DEA agents would investigate if they were notified of the incident or possibly during a random audit of the physician.

“The law is clearly written,” Waite said of the regulations. “And if it came to the DEA’s attention, our DEA people would do an investigation.”

Myers said that is not what he was told by officials when he inquired, but said he could understand if a mistake was made. But he stressed his patients should not have to suffer for it.

“Why punish them by not letting them get their medication,” Myers said.

He credited Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., with helping sort the issue out.

“He stepped in,” Myers said of the senator.

Aaron Cooper, press secretary for Coburn, said the senator should not receive undue credit.

“He contacted his office and we looked into his case and told him how to apply for the proper licensing,” Cooper said. “I think he got conflicting information from what I understand, but all we did was tell him how to handle it.”

Cooper said Coburn did not intercede on Myers’ behalf.

“We pointed him in the right direction,” Cooper said.


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