Mar 1, 2022 - Health

Supreme Court hears arguments from doctors over opioid prescriptions

Illustration of a gavel hovering over a block with an image of a red cross.
Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Lawyers for two doctors convicted of illegal opioid prescribing will argue their cases today before the U.S. Supreme Court, with potentially big implications for the medical profession, the NYT reports.

Why it matters: The opioid crisis, which originated with prescription drug abuse, has led to a crackdown on excessive prescribing. But it's also made it harder for patients with chronic pain to get access to the medication they need, advocates say, in part because doctors are afraid of the legal risks.

What we're watching: The lawyers will ask the court to overturn the doctors' convictions and establish a standard that allows doctors to raise a "good faith" defense.

  • Juries could then consider whether doctors believed they were using their best medical judgment when prescribing medication.
  • "The court's decision on the broader legal questions could have significant implications for the latitude doctors can take in prescribing potentially addictive painkillers and other restricted medications," the NYT writes.
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