Dr. Larry Eckstein, MD, has been my family doctor for over 15 years in Boulder. His unique approach of combining conventional medical practice with other forms of healing in a holistic way has benefited my own health needs greatly. His approach has helped my own chronic health issues as well as the usual seasonal ailments and the many new issues of aging that I face. Dr. Eckstein has always been careful with prescription medications and nutritional supplements for me. He has been an excellent physician and a man of impeccable character in our long fifteen-year association.
The prosecution, and indeed persecution of Dr. Eckstein by both Boulder County and the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) through his entrapment over a pain killer prescription is very shabby behavior by both Boulder County and the DEA. Not only will it impact the career of an eminent Boulder physician, but it also imposes a great hardship on his patient base of hundreds who chose Dr. Eckstein because of his expertise with complex, long-term health issues. It will also tend to drive young people out of medicine and other health professions through fear of the DEA’s presence in their career.
Dr. Eckstein was tricked into prescribing for an undercover agent who was well trained as medical actor and an accomplished pain killer confidence man. A simple layman’s Google search reveals that the dosage reported in the Daily Camera and higher doses are used by specialists throughout the country in certain chronic pain cases. Ultimately these are medical questions for the medical profession and the DEA has no right to take on a medical role in setting the standard by which an excellent doctor acting in good faith may be entrapped in a medical sting operation.
In fact, Dr. Eckstein was deemed guilty by the DEA of excessive opioid prescribing before he could show his innocence of any intentional wrongdoing or diversion of drugs outside legitimate needs. Doesn’t our system assume innocence until proven guilty? Why wasn’t Dr. Eckstein accorded this basic civil right that we all enjoy? Why did his case unfold in secret by law enforcement and the Grand Jury and not go directly to the Colorado Medical Board right from the start? Why did the Boulder County Grand Jury not demand that the DEA confront Dr. Eckstein out in the open so he could defend himself on medical grounds from an unjust entrapment sting?
It doesn’t take much Googling to also see that the DEA has been going outside the medical profession in other states to do the same thing that it is trying to do in Boulder. It is in fact practicing medicine without a license by setting the amounts of opioid at which it may secretly begin to ruin a doctor’s career and create hardship for his family and patient base. This charge against Dr. Eckstein potentially threatens every independent MD in Colorado as well as violating our civil rights in Colorado.
I don’t want opioid drugs to be diverted by medical prescriptions to addicts and other illegal drug users. But Dr. Eckstein wasn’t doing that. He was acting in good faith as a well-trained actor led him to a “red flag” level of opioid set by the DEA, not by medical practices. His case should have gone straight to the Colorado Medical Board, not to the Boulder County Grand Jury and the DEA.
The DEA is systematically threatening the medical profession, and myself as a patient, by escalating the drug war and by violating Dr. Larry Eckstein’s civil and constitutional rights. Our physicians and other health and healing professionals are truly a national resource to be valued and protected, not attacked and abused. We in Boulder County are known as progressive thinkers. We have a historical opportunity right now to stop the DEA from harassing doctors in this manner here and in other parts of the country.
Richard Simonelli • PO Box 68, Nederland, CO 80466