The Obama administration unveiled a new initiative to combat prescription drug abuse Tuesday, but some pain specialists say the plan – like the drugs it targets – fails to address the real issue.

A key element of Obama’s plan is urging Congress to mandate physician training be a precondition to registering with the Drug Enforcement Agency. This has the American Medical Association on edge.

While they support the plan’s intent, the possibility of mandating training for doctors who prescribe addictive pain killers like morphine and oxycodone is a concern, said AMA President Cecil B. Wilson.

The AMA would not comment further on its concerns until specific legislation was drafted.

“There is an over emphasis in the medical system on medication to deal with pain,” said Dr. Peter Abachi. “We’re missing meat of the problem if we don’t give people the other tools.”

Those tools include physical therapy, psychology and mind-body therapy.

When used together, they address both the mental and physical causes of pain more effectively than medication alone, said Abaci, a clinical instructor at the Stanford Pain Clinic and co-founder of the Bay Area Pain and Wellness Center in Los Gatos, Calif.

While doctors definitely need more training on how to use pain drugs, they also need educated on more comprehensive treatment options, Abaci said.

“I see so many problems,” he said. “Patients come in now with a laundry list of [drugs] they’ve tried already and they’re looking at me to clean up the mess.”

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