Chiropractors are often proud of offering drugless treatments to their patients. Many even have an outright aversion against drugs which goes back to their founding father, DD Palmer, who disapproved of pharmaceuticals. On this background it seems surprising that, today, some chiropractors lobby hard to get prescription rights.

A recent article explains:

A legislative proposal that would allow Wisconsin chiropractors to prescribe narcotics has divided those in the profession and pitted those of them who support the idea against medical doctors. At a hearing on the bill Tuesday, representatives form the Wisconsin Chiropractic Association said back pain is a common reason people go see a medical doctor, but they argue that chiropractors with additional training could be helping those patients instead. Under the bill, chiropractors would be able to write prescriptions for painkillers and administer anesthesia under the direction of a physician.

Expanding the scope of practice, the WCA said, would give patients with pain faster relief when primary care physicians are busy. The Wisconsin Medical Society, though, has come out against the proposal. “This expands to something not seen anywhere else in the country,” said Don Dexter, chief medical officer for WMS.

Meanwhile, another chiropractic group, the Chiropractic Society of Wisconsin, is also skeptical. “We contend there is no public need or demand … to allow chiropractors to prescribe drugs,”  said Dean Shepherd, the group’s president.

Opponents also pointed out that the changes could increase access to opioids at a time the state is trying to reduce abuse. “As you know, based on legislation passed in the last two sessions, we’re already dealing with an epidemic of opioid overuse,” Dexter said. “We don’t need new providers prescribing those medications.”

However, some practicing chiropractors like Jason Mackey, with Leutke Storm Mackey Chiropractic in Madison, argue that medical fields evolve: “We have always had change throughout the course of our professsion.” Mackey said there has been pushback with previous changes, like using X-ray or certain therapies and recommending vitamins.


On this blog, we discussed the issue of chiropractic prescribing before. At the time, I argued against such a move and gave the following reasons:

  • Patients might be put at risk by chiropractors who are less than competent in prescribing medicines.
  • More unnecessary NAISDs would be prescribed.
  • The vast majority of the drugs in question is already available OTC.
  • Healthcare costs would increase.
  • Prescribing rights would give more legitimacy to a profession that arguably does not deserve it.
  • Chiropractors would then continue their lobby work and soon demand the prescription rights to be extended to other classes of drugs.

Considering the chiropractors’ arguments for prescribing rights stated in the above article, I see little reason to change my mind.

3 Responses to Chiros as prescribers of medicines?

  • Using “patients” instead of “customers” seems inappropriate.

  • So why not ‘licensed Massage therapists’, Naturopaths and OM clinicians as well??
    Why DCs only? Where would it stop? They have NEVER proven their efficacy or actual cost effectiveness or (mental stability) vs nothing or anything-else. IF any professional deserves consideration for prescription-rights it is PTs or DPTs. Period.
    I just CANNOT understand why, over the last 40 years a nursing school (or the AMA) hasn’t opted to create a “Nurse-manipulation/back-specialist’ program….graduate RN-MMS (manual-medicine specialist) and simply make DCs utterly superfluous. Clearly the Chiropractic profession is a ruse, an elaborate perpetual bait-and-switch.
    Nurses would at least be real medical professionals in direct line with science and honest clinical protocols.

  • In the UK, the General Medical Council was created precisely to protect patients from receiving medical treatment from any other than a registered medical practitioner – unless the patient positively agreed to such treatments.
    So, treatment from physios, nurses, osteopaths, even chiropractors is permitted, but unless those practitioners take the time and trouble to qualify as ‘doctors’, and register with the GMC, they are barred from working as doctors in the NHS (no law prevents what they do with private patients, proving they inform patients of their status, get consent and do no harm); signing death certificates; claiming to be registered; and prescribing certain drugs on defined schedules.

    Anyone can prescribe a vitamin C tablet, or an aspirin – and any other OTC preparation. Even a homeopathic remedy!

    So the issue of ‘prescribing chiros’ should be recast as ‘chiros wanting the status of physicians, without actually qualifying as such.’

    I reiterate – standards were set, are set, to protect the public. As for air line pilots, lawyers, accountants etc.
    If a chiropractor wants to join the medical profession, they should do so in a legitimate regular fashion. They will be welcome.
    Otherwise, they should reflect on their true motives.

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