Prop. 46 proponents say they want to prevent pill-popping doctors

By Alastair Bland

About a decade ago, Alana Pack of Danville went for a walk with her two children. A car driven by a woman under the influence of prescription painkillers ran the family over and killed both children.

Around the same time, Tennessee physician Stephen Loyd started abusing prescription drugs he procured through his close connections at the hospital where he worked. Over a short period of time, he was popping as many as a hundred Vicodin and oxycodone pills a day while on the job.

On Monday, Loyd joined Bob Pack, husband of Carmen Pack, at The Citizen Hotel in Sacramento, where the two voiced their support for a statewide ballot measure that would require doctors undergo random drug testing to prevent abuse of prescription drugs if approved by voters this November.

Proposition 46 would also require that doctors check the state’s database on prescription drugs before prescribing drugs to first-time patients.

The goal is to protect people from tragedies like that which befell the Packs, triggered by a woman who acquired an overload of pills by going to multiple doctors at the same hospital—a common tactic by drug abusers called “doctor shopping.” The doctors had not bothered to check on their patient’s medication-use history because they weren’t required to, proponents said.

“Proposition 46 will save lives,” Loyd told attendees at the August 11 meeting, which was hosted by Consumer Watchdog, a consumer and taxpayer advocacy organization.

The group’s president, Jamie Court, told SN&R in an interview that Proposition 46 could also save the state’s taxpayers more than $400 million per year by curbing abuse and overprescription of medications.

But opponents of the measure, which is largely funded by lawyers, alleges that Proposition 46 has a different priority—increasing the cap on malpractice lawsuits from $250,000, where it stands today, to more than $1 million.

Opponents, most of whom come from the health-care profession, warn this could result in huge annual costs in courtroom settlements.

Loyd may be an anomaly among doctors, who widely oppose Proposition 46. They and other opponents—like the Sacramento-based group No on Proposition 46—claim the measure is chiefly a maneuver by lawyers to raid their bank accounts. They have said the clauses relating to prescription-drug abuse were added only to distract voters from the litigation component of the law.

No on Proposition 46 did not return calls or an email seeking comment before print deadline.

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.