A pain specialist says doctors need to be more thoroughly educated on how to prescribe narcotics to patients suffering from chronic pain.

Halifax physician Dr. Mary Lynch says she's not surprised to hear complaints from Sudbury patients who need certain medications but can't get a prescription.

“With the recent wave of press attention on opioids and some of the problems that opioids can have, I think physicians have felt very uncomfortable about using opioids even where they are quite appropriate,” said Lynch.

Ray Landry, a Sudbury counsellor who works with clients with chronic pain issues, told CBC News earlier this week that there are hundreds of people in the city who require treatment but aren’t getting it. He says doctors are reluctant to take on patients who need long-term pain management.

Lynch says prescription drug abuse is a big problem that can discourage physicians and recommends better education for doctors on pain management and prescribing narcotics.

As for patients with legitimate needs for pain medication who can't find a doctor, Lynch suggests they contact the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“I think this is definitely material for lodging a complaint,” Lynch said. “Not necessarily against a particular doctor, but just going to the college and saying in general, ‘Look, I cannot find a physician who will care for me and I need access to medical care.’”