Return to


December 6 , 2000

AMA Reaffirms Support of Pain Relief Promotion Act

The AMA House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly to defeat a resolution suggesting withdrawal of AMA support for the Pain Relief Promotion Act today at its winter meeting in Orlando, Florida. The Reference Committee report (following), which summarized testimony and made the recommendation to reaffirm AMA support of the Pain Relief Promotion Act, points out that there is clear evidence that implementation of the few state laws with wording like the Pain Relief Promotion Act have uniformly been followed by an increase in per capita morphine prescription, not a decrease. It is clear that claims of a so-called "chilling effect" are unfounded and without scientific merit.

With reaffirmation of overwhelming AMA support, it is more important than ever that Congress pass and President Clinton sign the enlightened Pain Relief Promotion Act, which has bipartisan support and is supported by the majority of congressional members in both chambers. Patients need improved pain treatment and palliative care, not assisted suicide.

N. Gregory Hamilton, M.D.
President, Physicians for Compassionate Care (503-276-1293)

(Following is the Reference Committee Recommendation which was passed today)



Mr. Speaker, your Reference Committee recommends that Resolution 214 not be adopted.

HOD ACTION: Resolution 214 not adopted.

Resolution 214 asks that our American Medical Association oppose the Pain Relief Promotion Act due to the Act's unintended consequences and potential chilling effect on the practices of palliative medicine and pain management.

While noting that some organizations are persisting in opposition to the Federal "Pain Relief Promotion Act," your Reference Committee heard overwhelming support for not adopting this Resolution that would reverse our AMA's position on this bill.

In short, your Reference Committee believes that our AMA and interested state and national medical specialty societies, working together, accomplished what the House of Delegates asked be done pursuant to actions taken at I-99: principally, that our AMA work to make specific clarifications to the bill with its sponsors to erase any lingering concerns about creating new Federal intrusion into the practice of medicine.

Your Reference Committee particularly appreciated hearing from the many individual physicians who have practiced in the palliative care and pain relief areas and who joined with national, state and specialty organizations to voice continued support for our AMA's efforts to move this bill forward.

As was noted in the Reference Committee hearing, many states have already adopted language substantially similar to the new safe harbor in the Pain Relief Promotion Act, although it was specifically noted that Minnesota's law that prohibits the prescribing of controlled substances for purpose of effectuating a physician-assisted suicide fails to include this protection for physicians whose intent might be questioned by state or Federal authorities.

Mr. Speaker, this concludes the report of Reference Committee B. I would like to thank Richard Ambur, MD, Philip Briggs, MD, Roger Gaddy, MD, Kristie Paris, MD, Clarence Sanders, MD, Melissa Thomas, MD, and all those who testified before the Committee. The Committee also would like to thank our AMA staff who assisted us: Rebecca Cerny, JD, Mary Kuffner, JD, Ron Szabat, JD and Wendy Holmes.

© Copyright 2000
Physicians for Compassionate Care Educational Foundation