Dr. Lynn Webster Talks Opioid Use on Reddit Ask Me Anything


Our country is currently facing a crisis. The CDC estimates that opioids were involved with more than 28,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2014. The CDC estimates that at least half involved a prescription opioid. The numbers are staggering. Opioids cannot simply be dismissed, however. Despite the inherent dangers, opioids are often necessary for pain patients to lead normal lives.


On September 28th, Dr. Lynn Webster, VP of Scientific Affairs at PRA Health Sciences, headed a discussion on Reddit. He discussed the study that’s currently being conducted at PRA Health Sciences and fielded questions about the controversy that surrounds prescription opioids. The discussion became quite heated at times (understandably), but Reddit users were able to receive legitimate, educated answers to their pressing medical questions from a doctor who is entrenched in pain medication research.


At PRA Health Sciences, we work tirelessly to find a solution to this problem. We are working every day to make pain medications safer through the development of abuse-deterrent formulations. One of the ways we test the effectiveness of these new formulations is with carefully monitored studies. PRA is currently conducting a study where the subject compares euphoric sensations caused by a commonly abused drug with those of a new drug formulation. The goal is to find a new drug or formulation that works to reduce pain without creating a feeling of euphoria, thus reducing the temptation to abuse the drug. The current study is open to non-addicted recreational users of prescription opioid pain medications. PRA is looking for a Full qualification details can be found here.


  1. Linda A May on October 26, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I am writing because I am angry. The DEA is interfering with my treatment for chronic pain and hyper-algesia. The hyperalgesia was actually iatrogenic; i.e., caused by poor health care. I had my right knee replaced. I got hyperalgesia. My pain manager of 5 years would not cover the pain even though it happened once before. The first time, after a second reconstruction of my CMC joint, when Dr. Lee Osterman properly treated the pain, the hand was rehabbed, the pain went away and I discontinued all opioid treatment immediately. This time it was not covered, I was in excruciating pain for months, unable to rehab the knee. Only when I found someone who would cover the pain could I rehab the knee. After a second procedure, of course.
    Only this time, because the pain had been so acute for so long and I have so many advanced degenerative joints the hyper-algesia did not go away. This is also due to coming out of surgery for cancer in PTSD, and I have other trauma disorders. I am in treatment for the trauma disorders. I expect when they are adequately covered I won’t need so much pain medication.

    However, I function perfectly well when my pain is covered. I am extremely active, work out weekly, work more than full time, have an active social life and mind. I have two therapists that I see weekly, both more than competent in substance use disorders. No one is complaining about my acting impaired on my pain management routine. No one even knows I am on pain management meds except my medical providers. ALL my medical providers know. I am not keeping secrets from appropriate authorities. I am at low risk for a substance use disorder. NOW, thanks to the DEA, I cannot do any of my normal activities. Because I am in pain all the time. Bone pain, Senator.
    I resent the DEA ruining my life. I only went to opioids after I tried everything else for pain. As it stands, only 1 opioid works. It took a long time to find a solution and now it’s being taken away. I am the best expert on myself that exists. The DEA doesn’t care about my welfare. The DEA is just shooting the same weapon at everyone, indiscriminately. It is wrong. I am angry. I am at very low risk for a substance use disorder. Now I have to live in agony all the time. This is outrageous! It is not right. I want it stopped. I want to be treated fairly in my country. I am treated with prejudice.

  2. Anonymous on November 9, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    As a patient (only (pm)dr. I’ve seen in 22 yrs.& same pharmacy (my choice.DEA has shut my LONG term Pain Management Dr.,who has gone out of his was to help me in non medical help.Hes a good man & cares about ppl.From my 1st.appt.he moved very slowly,long before trying narcotics.What can I do to help this great man & Dr. in dealing with DEA? They closed him down,taking his computers,appt.book & patients chartsWont let him practice.Hes helped me,Now I want to help him.How can I help my(PM)dr.? Please help me help a Dr. who’s changed my life from not being able to move to almost functioning human.please tell me what I can do to help him with this bull DEA involvement in his chosen life’s work & many yrs.of schooling? Please help me to finally help him?

  3. Shannon on November 16, 2016 at 4:51 am

    Dear Dr. Webster,

    I am a 54 yr old grandmother and single parent to a teenaged son at home. I have lived my whole life with back and neck pain and no insurance. I was 50 years old when the pain finally got the best of me and I had to stop working. At that time I qualified for state insurance. I began the diagnostic process and learned that I had scoliosis, several ruptured discs, stenosis, and degenerative disc disease. At age 52 yrs I put my trust in a surgeons hands and had fusion surgery, cervical and lumbar, on the same day. Laminectomies, discectomies. I knew pretty much immediately that something wasn’t right post op – it felt crowed inside, felt like I’d been hit with a ball bat and then had a fist jammed up my spine. 6 months later a new MRI revealed that the discs above and below the surgery sites ( lumbar ) had crumbled under pressure from the titanium hardware inside me. I have not worked a day since February 2013 and I am on disability. My most recent MRI’s look horrible. I have thorasic issues now as well as a torn miniscus in one knee. I have severe hip pain due to an undiagnosed problem. I have been on various painkillers prescribed by two different health care providers. The first provider had to shut down due to pressure from the DEA to stop prescribing pain medications. I’ve had my most recent doctor for the past 3 years. In that time I have not asked for early refills. I have not had to cancel or reschedule appointments. I passed UA’s and I did not ask for increases in doses or different kinds of meds. I have walked a fine line knowing how precious pain management is to me, knowing I cannot manage my life without medication. Last month when I went in for my usual visit for refills I was UA’d. The nurse told me that the DEA had been there that day and they had to UA pain patients. My heart sank because this is how the end of my last pain management began. I was handed a UA cup, I returned the sample and signed my name on the paperwork for the UA. The UA sample was sent to Ameritox. A week later I received a letter from my doctor saying that the doctor patient relationship had been breached by me and that I was being dismissed from his care and no more pain meds would be given to me. A copy of my tox report was enclosed. It said that I tested negative for two of my prescribed meds. I knew right away that it was a false negative because I had dosed at 5am that day. My appointment was at 11am. Everything else that I took that morning along with the pain and anti-anxiety meds showed up. I can’t explain it unless it has to do with the low dose and indirect flushing via the lasix I also take. I wrote a letter to my doctor asking for an appointment to come in and discuss the UA, then called the office and got a message through to the doctor. It made no difference. I was let go.

    Now, here is my dilemma. Aside from being without managed care and little hope of finding anyone else willing to take me as a patient, I am aware of another patient who goes to the same doctor I have been seeing. She is on managed pain care as well, only she says that this doctor has not made her sign a contract, she never gets UA’d, and he refills early for her when she asks. She has been seeing this doctor for several years. My friend is the daughter of a well known local official. My friend holds a position in the city offices of her town. My friend’s ex husband killed himself in a “soma coma” a couple of years ago. Both of her grown children are addicts. My friend has been able to get early refills and increases in dosages of pain medications as well as anxiety medication and sleep medication. She has been able to tell the doctor that her kids took all of her meds and that’s why she needs the early refills – and the doctor obliges her. My friend gets other pain medications from her friends or from street people. The doctor does not UA her when my friend comes in the office, in withdrawal. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it for myself. I know it’s true because I have been in her home, and as much as I love and care about my friend, I must say it’s a horribly dangerous and dysfunctional situation over there. The collateral damage of addiction affects everyone under that roof, including the minor grandchildren. My household is nothing like hers. We live in a rural area, we don’t have people in and out all day and night, trafficking medications via illegal/recreational users. My teen at home is autistic. We live a very structured, simple life comparatively. Yet I am the one who the doctor cuts off without so much as hearing me out on what’s going on with me that could cause me to fail my UA. There was no face to face appointment. There was no 30 days of meds or medical care to get me by until I can find another doctor. I am in the middle of diagnostics on my spine so I can see a specialist. I recently fell and now I am numb in my right foot. I am having severe symptoms of nerve damage in my neck. I need to be under a doctor’s care. I feel completely abandoned.

    I am not mad at my friend. I love her, we go all the way back to elementary school. I am upset with my doctor. I feel shortchanged. I feel like I’ve been just cast off as though I don’t deserve a little less pain in my life, while my friend receives a margin of error for ten when it comes to the pain management rules. I know that my doctor is aware of her situation at home. Her son recently overdosed on Soma, yet the doctor continues to prescribe to my friend, making the narcotics readily available to her two kids who are recreational users, addicts, and in fried over the death of their father. To me, this is a huge error in judgement. But I’m not a doctor. I have no idea what the protocols are for such a situation.

    Do I have any recourse? Do I have any rights? I feel I need to confront this doctor on his practices. Can you help me decide how to proceed? I don’t want to endanger my friend as I don’t think she would survive it. She’s not strong. I want to confront the doctor. I don’t know how.

    Thank you for your time reading this. I know it’s a long story.

  4. Anonymous on November 26, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    A false negative is as bad as a false positive, which is what happened to me. I have 32 diagnosis. 11 of them are degenerative. What this new ‘structure’ has done to me, for me, by DEA, CDC, or people is as follows: I was taken off of 5/6 medications 5 and 4 months ago. I am in bed 90% of the time and at a norm pain level of 9-10 at any given point in time. I have lost 30 pounds as of my last appt, and no longer eat daily…more like every 2-3 days followed by vomiting and diarrhea in approx 10hrs, bile every so often anyways. I have asked for help. I then learned that a new PCP Dr had wrote “RESOLVED” on all my diagnosis. Well, my specialists, there are 5 who I used to see often and now see 2 times/year, have been correcting this PCP’s actions. Because of Neurosarcoid, Stenosis, Osteopenia, Allergies, Relapsing Polychondritis, RA, IC, and so many other things, including neuropathy, I just don’t see what more I can do. I’ve seen the damage, I’m so disappointed in some people. And I know what my choices are.

  5. Anonymous on November 26, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    I just wanted to say that I was once a Network Administrator, International Buyer, 13-year and still going when I became ill college student, tax-payer, church going, active in family – daughter, mother, grandmother, godmother, foster-mother, step-mother, (Love kids, people, animals, outdoors) friend, cousin, niece, driver, shopper, holiday enthusiast, smiler, laugher, and I had a life partner, owned my home, car. Today, I am fortunate to have a little dog who can sense when I’m about to have a seizure, I am fortunate to have a place to live – even though it’s a small apt and I’m happy that I suffer and cry alone now, and I’m ever so lucky to not be one of the chronic pain patients who have committed suicide…the burning, sharp-shooting insufferable pain is excruciating. I know it will eventually kill me ~ somehow.

  6. Robert Douglass on December 13, 2016 at 3:13 am

    I have two issues within this industry which i been thrust into and relate specifically to you Dr. First, I see many articles and information provided by you as the forgoing authority on opioids and pain. There is much information provided by you as to the “dangers” but very little on the great success’ people are achieving while using these products, my question is why? why are you not more an advocate for us?..who’s side are you on?. Secondly, I have a serious issue with your “O.R.T.” which has been used by my Dr. to portray me in a negative light. The first two questions specifically are open ended, you do not ask, how often or when, as with the original SOAPP and without this info a provider cannot create a comprehensive overview…just wondering? I have also left several messages with your office with no response, does anybody know a good way to correspond? Thanks Robert

  7. Kim on October 2, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    It is silly to believe that regulating doctors, hurting patients who have authentic pain issues. curbing prescriptions without curbing the number of people in need of medication for authentic pain issues is going to do one damn thing to stop the supposed increase in deaths do to opioid overdose. Statistics do not weed through the deaths and decide who are overdosing: heroine users, or people who are criminals and take medication that isn’t prescribed to them. How many deaths are related to alcohol poisoning? How many people have gone to the emergency room completely unresponsive do to their alcohol consumption? I will bet anything that is is more of a chaotic epidemic than the current opioid scare taking place. Passing out from alcohol consumption which is dangerous has become a rite of passage for many people in our culture, alcoholism is rampant. But is there an ongoing “scare” regarding this epidemic? Does it take alcohol off of shelves? Regulation fine. But the government should stay out of Americans’ doctors’ offices. The unfounded “scare” is hurting so many people across America who did not ask to be chronically ill. And what they are doing is not even helping the issue which is abuse/addiction (yes, together) and keeping the streets safe from drug dealers. This would involve a ramp up in police officers getting the actual bad guys and leaving the multiple sclerosis, back pain, knee issue, etc. patients the Hell alone!

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