An Open Letter to Dr. Andrew Kolodny

Update 6/27/18: I am overwhelmed by the positive responses I have received for this letter. I would ask that readers also take a look at all the articles and references cited in this piece, and share those as well. Those references go into much, much more detail and research than I have had space or time for here. Thank you all so much for reading and sharing, I believe we will make a difference and win this fight for our lives! #wearehere

See also: A Rock and a Hard Place, The Truth About the Opioid Crisis, and Strangulation on Medicine

Dear Dr. Kolodny,

I am one of millions of chronic pain patients in the United States who has been continually and increasingly oppressed over the past few years by progressively invasive and prohibitive laws at the state and federal levels concerning the delicate relationship between doctors and patients, particularly when it comes to a certain class of drugs, i.e. opiates.

Ever since my very real, physical condition began about 4 years ago, my family and I have been disoriented again and again by a lack of what might be termed, “help,” from doctors. We have discovered a very confused medical community, corruption, and a growing collection of laws being passed so fast and furiously hardly anyone seems to know just what is going on.

This has resulted in doctors leaving my city, doctors outright refusing to accept chronic pain patients (or, if they do accept these patients, refusing to treat them with medications that suit the patient best) or new patients, and unprecedented referrals to pain management clinics and psychiatrists. I have a detailed post planned addressing the pain management clinics, but the psychiatrist referrals were more baffling to me. My local psychiatrists even refused me as a patient about a year ago because, “we don’t see chronic pain patients.” That made sense to me as I don’t suffer from mental illness, still my providers insisted I must be mistaken.

Down the Rabbit Hole

I began researching you and your career last night out of curiosity. I wanted to answer the question, “Who is this Dr. A. Kolodny, that everyone from journalists to policy makers and bloggers keep quoting as an “expert on opiates”?” And I found out. You, sir, are a psychiatrist and board-certified addiction specialist-turned policy maker (1) and buprenorphine (Suboxone) “evangelist” (2).

Your first private clinic was a Suboxone clinic in New York City, established sometime around 2003-2005, and it appears you (and/or other health officials) felt stymied by the federal limit at the time of just 30 patients for such clinics (put in place to stem corruption), because said health officials have been in the background, quietly working away at this very limit which was amended in 2006 (called DATA), to allow 100* patients after 1 year, and is now up in the House for being overturned altogether, along with expanding legal prescribers to nurses and other non-doctor medical staff. And look what has happened as a result:

Health officials, concerned about restricted access, lobbied alongside Reckitt Benckiser for the patient cap to be raised. “Why should we bind a healer’s hands from helping as many as he or she could?” Senator Hatch said, getting an amendment passed in 2006 that allowed doctors, on request, to go from 30 to 100 patients after a year.

The stage was set for more patients, prescriptions and problems. “It’s when the limit was raised from 30 that doctors started to get commercial about it,” said Dr. Art Van Zee, whose buprenorphine program at a federally funded community health center in rural Virginia is surrounded by for-profit clinics where doctors charge $100 for weekly visits, pulling in, he estimated, about $500,000 a year.

“They are not savvy about addiction medicine, don’t follow patients very closely, don’t do urine testing and overprescribe,” he said. “That’s how buprenorphine became a street drug in our area.” (4)

“In the early days of Suboxone, with Reckitt Benckiser barely marketing its own drug, Dr. Kolodny, then a New York City health official, crisscrossed the city with colleagues to spread the word about the new medication, entice public hospitals to try it with $10,000 rewards and urge doctors to get certified.” (4)

Since at least 2005, you have been marketing buprenorphine as if you had a personal stake in the drug, to government institutions and agencies including prisons, public hospitals, and rehabilitation facilities (2). In the fall of 2013, you were appointed Chief Medical Officer (5), of the largest chain of non-profit detox/rehab facilities in the USA (cited for questionable practices and abuse from at least 2012-2015) (6) called Phoenix House, which received $131 million in June 2013 (7), championing the use of MAT, or “Medication Assisted Treatment,” and which now funds your non-profit, policy-influencing group, PROP, or Physicians for Responsible Prescribing. I wonder which drug Phoenix House used?

Hang ‘Em High?

salem witch hanging.PNG
An innocent “witch” (woman) is hanged at the Salem Witch Trials, much like other innocent pain patients are persecuted.

Since you often cite the United States vs. Purdue Pharma (2007) settlement in your interviews and writings, perhaps you saw an opportunity to expand the use of buprenorphine by targeting and demeaning chronic pain patients as mere “addicts”.
It was odd to me in researching that incident, in the official “Purdue Guilty Plea” document (8), the very words they were condemned for, claiming OxyContin to be “less addictive” and “less subject to abuse and diversion” (8), appear to be the exact words you use time and again when describing the benefits of buprenorphine (2).

Kolodny reminds his colleagues of the drug’s advantages. He stresses that bupe in the form of Suboxone is safe and almost impossible to abuse, a huge selling point at many of the clinics they will visit. Suboxone has a second active ingredient in the mix, he explains, an anti-overdose drug called naloxone.

It does nothing if you take bupe as directed. But if you sniff bupe or inject it or otherwise try to pack enough into your bloodstream to get high, the naloxone acts like a chemical booby trap, erasing the effects of any opiate, bupe included, and bringing on sweaty, nauseating withdrawal. “That’s the last time you’ll do it,” Kolodny says dryly.

In 2016, your organization, PROP (Physicians for Responsible Opiate Prescribing), got the ear of the CDC and helped to write the now-infamous, misinformed, and rushed guidelines for prescribing opiates. While these guidelines were fairly general in nature, they have been used as a springboard for countless pieces of state legislation and DEA investigations, which has, in turn, led to the above-mentioned abuse and abandonment of chronic pain patients and doctors, as well as opiate shortages in hospitals and ERs (The DEA, in an attempt to prevent diversion of opiates to the black market, has cut production by an incredible 45% in the past 2 years). I imagine that suits you just fine, since you have publicly stated you believe opiates should be discontinued for all but the dying and post-major surgery “for a few days” (, and that “more treatment” is needed (, i.e. MAT/Suboxone clinics like Phoenix House.

'The National Gesture' 1926
“The National Gesture” 1926

You have hailed local municipalities and states in their further pursuit of legal action against American Big Pharma, the companies who make such things as Vicodin and Percocet, but not Suboxone/buprenorphine (which is also an opiate), which is made by an overseas company, Reckitt Benckiser, or Naloxone (Narcan), which is produced in a nasal spray exclusively by Amphastar Pharmaceuticals (10), a relatively new company founded in California in 1996 (11),  whose stock (and Narcan prices) have been rising quite a bit, lately (12, 13). Are you truly against the use of opioids, or just the ones that help pain?

The Opioid Epidemic!

McCarthyism Propaganda

Although your policies, based on inaccurate data (14-15) (15), and, have been wildly ineffective at stopping heroin/fentanyl overdoses; although you are not a pharmacologist, opiate researcher, pain doctor, pain patient, surgeon, or even general practitioner; although you ran a private clinic for a short time in 2005 (as far as I’ve been able to learn) that dispensed buprenorphine/Suboxone, you have, for the majority of your career as far as I can tell, been a policy-maker and not directly involved with addiction patients or chronic pain patients whom you recently claimed were simply addicts who needed compassion and “treatment” (and, presumably, Suboxone).

“Many Americans are truly convinced that opioids are helping them. They can’t get out of the bed without them.”

“Policy makers were told by industry-funded pain organizations not to penalize pain patients because of drug abusers. We realized that this wasn’t true. We don’t have these two distinct groups, one for pain patients and the other for drug abusers.” (15a)

If You’re Not For Us, You’re Against Us

sen. joe mccarthy demonstrates the communist threat
Senator Joe McCarthy Demonstrates the Communist Threat in America

You are cited and quoted in an impressive number of articles and interviews as a compassionate person who wants to see people and their families heal from the devastation of addiction, which is why it surprised me to find quotes from you that didn’t seem, well, “nice.”

It is the FDA’s role to vigilantly regulate the approval, labeling, and promotion of  pharmaceutical products, not that of counties or municipalities. County and municipal lawyers are inadequately qualified to make or enforce federal drug policy, and these lawsuits serve as a vehicle for local governments to seek revenue  through ill-informed measures under the guise of drug abuse prevention. In a May 30,2014, interview with   FDA Week, a CLAAD spokesman voiced these positions and expressed concern that these lawsuits are part of “a trend that will distract us from the real meaningful approaches to reducing prescription drug abuse.”

After reading the interview, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP)and Chief Medical Officer of Phoenix House,  contacted CLAAD via telephone to condemn its comments. During this conversation, Kolodny threatened that the Internal Revenue Service would revoke CLAAD’s tax-exempt status when alerted to the comments, which he believes conflict with CLAAD’s charitable mission.  CLAAD takes these false allegations and threats very seriously, and  responded in a letter which is publicly available for view on our website.

Critics who categorically dispute the motives of organizations like CLAAD and its diverse coalition members are, at best, narrowly focused. Their zealotry reveals their otherwise undisclosed health insurance industry bias.  At worst, they endanger the lives of people who live with pain and other conditions that can require controlled substances by stifling access to quality care. (16)

Anyone who questions your authority, expertise, policies, or the efficacy of your pet drug, buprenorphine, is loudly dismissed by you as uneducated (17), addicted (15a), or corrupt (15a, 18), regardless of how closely they actually work with addicts and pain patients (17).

But Dr. Kolodny, I have nothing left to lose — your policies and attitudes have directly impacted my health, my freedom, my ability to be a parent, my work, my hobbies, my family, my finances, my friends, and my personhood. I have no problem announcing to the public, as loudly as I can, “The Emperor is not wearing any clothes!”

emporer has no clothes




















Further Resources

106 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Dr. Andrew Kolodny

  1. Thank you so much, Laura, for saying EXACTLY what I want to say to Dr. Kolodny! He has ruined so many lives with his greed and corruption. We really do not have good healthcare any longer, when doctors are limited by government and are too afraid to treat people who just want to lead productive lives with our diseases & injuries. Dr. Kolodny should be ashamed of himself!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Hi Loura; I realize its late in the game and time is running out. Is there any way you could get your wonderful letter to the “National Pain Report” and “Pain News Network” before Monday’s FDA dog and pony show seminar.
    Obviously, the big three DEA, CDC and FDA do not give a rat’s behind about chronic pain patients. The FDA needs to see your letter. BEST REGARDS, David

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you Loura for your very well done letter. I am a male that suffers from interstitial cystitis (painful bladder). This letter should be delivered certified to the POTUS. This so called doctor should drop dead. The FDA, CDC and the DEA are all corrupt. Chronic pain patients are being thrown under the bus.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, David! I’m so sorry for your pain. Please know the FDA is currently investigating the plight of CPPs and will have an open-to-the-public meeting on July 9th to hear in-person testimony. I don’t have the link, but look up “FDA investigates chronic pain” and submit a comment about your treatment (comments can be submitted until September). We will soon turn this around!

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Loura; Go to “National Pain Report” and look under Government. I don’t know how to copy and paste to you. The FDA
            website shows that 799 commented but only 301 comments are viewable. They don’t care.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. Loura; May God bless you and your family. We both have an Ohio connection. You were an OU grad, I am an OSU grad back in the 70’s. I still live in this Dr Kasick (Governor) state and his anti-opioid speeches.

            Liked by 2 people

          3. Thank you, David. God’s blessings to you and your family, too! Lol, I am a native Buckeye, great to meet another! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          4. David, I don’t have much love for the FDA but I believe the way with which the FDA reviews comments from the chronic pain patients is similar to, if not identical to the way in which it reviews public comments by other stake holders. For instance, public comments submitted from e-cigarette users have also been slow to be reviewed or the public’s ability to view them.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for a wonderful written, sourced letter that is unrefutable. Our emotional pleas are brushed away like gnats. Unheard. We needed something like this. Hopefully decision makers will read it, and be persuaded to help our plight. Very well done!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I prescribe buprenorphine (the active drug in Suboxone) for treatment of addiction, and write about the use of buprenorphine for pain. Buprenorphine is helpful in some cases, but for most people the things that make buprenorphine a good ‘addiction drug’ make it mediocre, at best, for treating pain. The unique ceiling effect of the drug results in near-perfect tolerance over time, preventing significant analgesia.

    I’ve written in my blog ( about the complexities of treating pain, and the likely harm that will come from simplistic approaches proffered by PROP and Dr. Kolodny. He contacted me and asked me to remove the reference to him, and when I refused he wrote back with a personal insult.

    Too many policy makers have NO idea of the issues involved when down in the trenches, trying to help people who have severe and chronic pain.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Kolondy should be charged, tried,and punished for the torture and attempted genocide of the disabled, the poor, the elder, the veterans, as well as attempting to profit from the same torture in his suboxone treatment center business. Its one way to rid society of the most unfortunate and bring his own master race and his FINAL SOLUTION for the rest of us. He should be disbarred for breaking the hippocratic oath to “do no harm” as well as for the discrimination and evil inflicted on innocent citizens. If all Doctors were like you, doctors would have the same reputation as pushers. In fact you are a pusher and a criminal and should be tried and convicted as such. How many more suicides will it take before you decide you cause more harm than good, 25 million more suicides enough for you or do you seek to wipe out Western Civilization”

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Shared! Absolute Truth! Thank you so much for your contribution Loura… Just stunningly brilliant writing in the overwhelming amount of credible harm you have been able to compile and condense in a formidable manner for all readers to easily grasp the magnitude of this man’s maniacal war on legitimate opiates for pain patients. Please submit to more venues for publication! Keep rambling onward 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree while us chronic intractable pain pts suffer and lose are quality of life addiction is still a choice a choice to use a choice to get clean choice to stay clean and live a full life we dont have that choice we dont have that option you take our meds we suffer and have no quality of life we are in pain and deserve quality pain control and medical care without judgement we follow the rules i am not addict nor have i ever been I am a 13 year or more chronic intractable pain pt who has CRPS and neuropathy and Fibromyalgia among other things that affects all aspects of my life i am drug dependent i depend on my meds to make my pain tolerable to cont to have quality of life to get out of bed to walk and enjoy my husband and 11 year old autistic grandson and family and to not be a burden on my family to take care of my home just to cook for my husband i am a tax paying voting citizen who follows the rules i have never overdose because i am not an addict and take my meds responsibly i deserve quality pain control !!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I’m so sorry for your pain. What makes me crazy about this madness is the fact that the best pain control is available, has a very long precedent of use, is inexpensive, noninvasive, but is just suddenly not allowed “for our benefit.”

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks so much to the author of this article. It’s time some of the people threatening pain patients rights are exposed for the real reason they are doing this.

      I have multiple conditions with no cure. I have had 3 brain surgeries and 2 spine surgeries. I have had CSF Leaks and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I WORK FULL time with the help of pain meds. Pain meds turns the dial down on my pain so I can continue to have some quality to my life.

      Pain control is my right and the right to anyone that finds relief in those meds.

      Dictating what we can or can’t take is a huge mistake created from FAKE NEWS. The real statistics are buried by creeps like this man.

      The current drs are tired of dealing with insurance companies and government regulations. This is less patient time. Many drs have retired, quit prescribing pain meds or transferred patients to pain management. And, what happens to future doctors? Do you actually think educated young adults will choose a profession with so much scrutiny?

      The real problem is illegal fentanyl. Please toss funding to law enforcement and give patients back their rights.

      United Nations says untreated pain is inhumane and cruel. We are a highly developed country. So, let’s act like one.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks for a well researched article on Andrew Kolodny. He represents some of the worst influences and abuses in modern medicine. He is deservedly one of the most hated figures in public life for people in pain.

    FYI, I was principal author of an open letter signed by more than 60 medical professionals and knowledgeable patients to the administration at Brandeis University, demanding that Kolodny be fired for cause. A shame they didn’t act on that input.

    As a followup on your research, feel free to look up the Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain. We are training patients and family members as citizen lobbyists, to conduct in person appointments with our legislators and their staffs, opposing the lies that Kolodny and PROP have been telling. Among many other publications, you may find this one interesting from *the Crime Report* — The ‘Phony War’ Against Opioids: Some Inconvenient Truths

    Again, thanks for taking a public stand on this important public health crisis — the denial of safe and effective pain management to literally millions of people whose only crime is that they hurt.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your letter.His policies solve nothing and now pain patients are dying as well. Our government is no longer about its citizens. My dog gets better control for his hip dysplasia and disc disease than I do, but I am very thankful he does not have to suffer.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I studied this guy too and came to the same conclusion. He is responsible for hoodwinking the CDC into printing his guidelines (NOT LAW) that WAS NOT approved by the FDA. Andrew is a true Narcissist. He is part of Satan’s Army.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had someone tell me via Twitter that the then-CDC Director Thomas Frieden and Dr. Kolodny had a professional relationship going back years. I have not verified that statement, but it would make a bit more sense as to how he got the CDC’s ear.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This needs to be shown to Trump. He believes the opioid Chris is and suicide numbers are 64000. Per year from opioids. Not the 17000. If this is correct. There is a meaningful drive here for certain people.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you. One of the most hysterical lines of his is that we honestly think our medicine is helping us. Um, well yes. I did think it was helping. Although my quality of life was not spectacular, given my complex medical profile, I was thankful to grow a few tomato plants, visit with my kids, go grocery shopping, and a few other small things. I functioned at a level that seemed pretty good given my health. Then, boom. The treatment plan that was nuanced over years was destroyed by misguided CDC guidelines developed by addiction specialists who have a vested interest in people being labeled as addicts. The forced taper has pushed me to a medication level that is lower than the starting dose in 1997. In the years since 1997 I have had a predictable progression of the diseases that are, in part, responsible for the pain I am in. There have also been accidents that have resulted in inoperable orthopedic issues. My specialists and I adjusted over the years. Opioids were a last resort for me–not, as some speculate–a starting point. Those careful decisions made in consultation with a list of specialists have been usurped by people who have never met me or my physicians. This needs to STOP.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I agree 10,000%. I am sick and tired of these Never Have Been Experts having so much control over my life. I am a Disabled Vietnam Era Veteran that must jump through hoops every month to ensure I can continue to receive my life sustaining medications. This ASS HAT making all the rules governing MY LIFE and he knows NOTHING about me. My medical treatment should be between my doctor and I. Not only the HOOPS, I get physically sick twice every month wondering when the VA will say, “No more relief for you”. Now go home, suffer and DIE”. I want to Thank You for doing all this research and I will share this complete article on every website and news agency I can. Thank you. ps, Now we need to get the Justice Dept. to investigate this Evil, Thug!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your service and I am so very sorry for your suffering due to a FALSIFIED OPIOD EPIDEMIC !! I too have had my lifesaving pain medication taken as my dr abandoned me last April. I am in NJ and the day after Christie announced even tighter restrictions and limits my dr dropped me, told me his license was more important than treating pain pts. Ive since found a new dr but it has,been a torturous hell ! Every dr I called I was treated like a pill seeking junkie, told they aren’t taking new pts, told to go to detox by assholes who never met me or took one look at me decades long medical records!!! The dr I am with will not put me back on the MEDICATION that worked for me for 8 years the same stable dose. Ive been with him for 6 months, after the 1st visit the dr had me scheduled for facet injections under anes. Ive had hundreds over the years they do not work and increase the pain! He also talked me into a ketamine infusion which did NOTHING and cost me $400 I didnt have to waste. I asked if ill ever be allowed to have back the 30mgs oxycodone that worked and gave me a QUALITY OF LIFE, his reply was that its being taken off the shelves. WTF country is this that allows humans to suffer until the pain is to much and we blow our brains out. GENOCIDE !! Denial of LIFESAVING PAIN MEDICATION IS CRUEL BARBARIC INHUMANE TORTURE AND THAT IS CRIMINAL!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh BTW, Thank you for exposing Kolodny for the crook he is! He blocked me on twitter, he doesn’t like being hit with facts and truth. He blocks many of us pain pts. I look forward to the day karma drops a visit on that killer. I hope he will feel excruciating pain and ill be glad to toss him some tylnol. How this one man managed to cause #opiodhysteria , demonizing our meds and labeling pain pts as addicts ,is beyond me. oh wait it’s all about the $$$$$ ….

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I haven’t gotten involved with Twitter yet, but MANY, MANY people in the pain groups I belong to have also been blocked by Mr. Kolodny. If he’s so sure of his facts, why is he afraid of an opposing view?

          Liked by 1 person

      2. I am so sorry for your pain, Pam! I wish our politicians, especially our state ones, understood just how much more money it has cost states to substitute expensive procedures, more expensive medications, and more disability funds because they have come down too hard on opiates; a drug that has been used since Ancient Egypt!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you for the truth.. this needs to go viral as it is exactly what happened. Thanks again for this tedious research I have been unable to do myself. My life has also been ruined from these bias guidelines and something needs to be done!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for exposing this corrupt man! I too have been cut back against my will and now my recliner has become my best friend. I sit and cry and mourn the days of gardening, cutting my grass, going to the grocery store. I will share and then share and then keep sharing this article! God Bless you Loura!

        Liked by 1 person

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