Ashamed 731 by Pat Conrad MD

Saying what I actually think of the federal government would probably get me banned from this website, and enlarge what I’m sure is an ample FBI file somewhere.  So I leave it to the reader’s imagination…

…Today I renewed my DEA license, you know, the cute little government card that lets me dispense and prescribe happy pills to patients who reside in a society that has determined they must be protected from the unregulated.  In 2006 this exercise cost $390.  Today, my prostration of necessity cost $731, an increase of 187%, or 31% per year!  Call me sheltered, but I don’t recall any big news stories lately on inflation anywhere near this magnitude.  So what have I gotten for my extra cost?

In recent years  “the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the DEA could set “reasonable fees” to recover the costs of diversion control … [The] drug control agency said it is required by law to recover with fees the costs of “activities related to the registration and control of the manufacture, distribution and dispensing, importation and exportation of controlled substances and chemicals.” The Controlled Substances Act authorizes the attorney general to charge “reasonable fees” related to the registration and control of these substances…”

So what is “reasonable”?  In the past decade I have seen friends, both physicians and nurses, fall into horrible prescription med addiction,  and the federal debt enlarged by billions in an unwinable war on drugs.  And every day I go to work, every single day, I’m beset with drug seekers for whom the federal government that I just paid will prosecute me if I dispense a bit too freely.  Other than that, I have gotten nothing of value for my additional money.

Is $731 a lot to you?  Maybe not, but it sure is to me.  And the worst part of all, is that it makes me feel like a chump, ashamed to have paid extortion to a monster that would make the worst gangster blush.

Do you want to pass this off as “just the cost of doing business?”  Rationalize if it helps, but this is all just more hidden class warfare for make-work drone jobs.  And no, knowing that all other docs have to do the same does not make it better, anymore than sitting in a lifeboat full of idiots makes one feel less cold and wet.


Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  5 comments for “Ashamed 731 by Pat Conrad MD

  1. Richard C. Towne, DDS
    August 13, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I retired six years ago after fifty eight years in practice. I can remember when the DEA fee was $5.00 per year. Those were the days!!!!!

  2. Susan Stangl
    August 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I find it particularly annoying as I work in a setting where we do not even prescribe drugs for which one needs a DEA number, but pharmacies and insurers insist on us having one so they can track us. Huh?

  3. Doug Given MD
    August 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    More government tax that they can waste on more stupid programs that don’t work

  4. lagaya
    August 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    The majority of us would be better off if the doctors would stop prescribing medication for everything. People take chloresterol drugs so they can continue their unhealthy eating habits. Ditto for hypertensive drugs. They don’t get “healthier”. Their symptoms just go away so they think they’re healthier. Many of us feel that doctors have sold us out to the pharmaceutical companies. It’s just easier for everyone if we go quietly along with the plan. At this point, I would not see a doctor unless I had an injury, or an acute illness. I know that I can only rely on ME for my health. I wish everyone understood that, and took their own health into their own hands.

    You had your rant, there’s mine. I realize this doesn’t address your complaint at all, but you touched a nerve with the mention of drug dispensing, and I am very disillusioned with it, too, but for different reasons, and from the patient’s side of the equation.

  5. August 8, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I AGREE that a physician shouldn’t have to pay for the “privilege” of practising medicine. I think we should all pay the costs of keeping you and your peers trained and credentialed. We’re all in this together. Just like teachers shouldn’t have to pay for their own continuing education.

    I DISAGREE with your ranting about the “guv’mint”.

    I suspect that the first-world countries which provide universal health care also have special requirements for dispensing
    mindbending drugs. I’m sure they don’t make the docs pay for it, since they’ve already decided that care for everyone is everyone’s responsibility. That’s the basic problem, confusing a needed social profession with a business similar to a barbershop or a stock brokerage. Our schizophrenic system has the public pay for hospitals and EMTs, and then charges docs fees like this.

    Second, of course, is our country’s insane attitudes toward addiction, for which you can thank the frightened conservatives who implemented the phony War on Drugs, and who haven’t the guts to admit it was a mistake. Then the same conservatives decide anything
    done through government is bad, and that we shouldn’t spend public money on public needs. The consequence is decimated government budgets, and greater burdens being passed on as “fees” for things like this.

    By the way, I’ve run into two excellent books about addiction which may interest some of your readers: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts,
    by a doc whose name I forget-he practices on Vancouver’s Skid Row, and is brilliant about addiction. The other is Empowering Your Sober Self, by Martin Nicolaus. He started Life Ring, the first sound, nonreligious alternative to AA that I’ve encountered.

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