A group of professionals led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have now chimed in on the topic of “stemming the prescription opioid epidemic,” in what they call a “crisis that kills an average of 44 people a day in the US.”
Their report titled “The Prescription Opioid Epidemic: An Evidence-Based Approach,” was created by professionals from “medicine, pharmacy, injury prevention and law” adding almost parenthetically in their press release that “patient representatives, insurers and drug manufacturers also participated in developing recommendations.”
The report calls for “changes to the way medical students and physicians are trained, prescriptions are dispensed and monitored, first responders are equipped to treat overdoses, and those with addiction are identified and treated.”
But, the actual focus is on the following – none of which is helpful for pain sufferers who use opioids legally and responsibly:
- Mandatory use of patient surveys to track pain, mood, and body functionality
- Urine drug testing
- Collection of prescription data to identify patients who may need substance abuse treatment
- Granting medical license boards with greater power to investigate prescribers and dispensers
The bottom line is that the report recommends having state and federal governments overhaul their rules for prescribing opioids, stating pain medicines are prescribed “in quantities and for conditions that are excessive, and in many cases, beyond the evidence base.”
“Not only are the recommendations comprehensive, they were developed with input from a wide range of stakeholders, and wherever possible draw from evidence-based research,” said Andrea Gielen, ScD, ScM director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Bloomberg School and one of the report’s signatories.
But one doctor has an issue with the suggestion that there even is an “evidence base” for chronic pain.
According to Dr. David Nagel, who wrote this in a recent article for National Pain Report, “There is no universal understanding of chronic pain. There is no universal solution to the problem; in fact, there is no solution. There is no universal definition of what chronic pain management actually is. A physician is judged how well his judgment follows the evidence base. What happens if there is no reliable evidence base? What happens if a problem is so complex that that it defies study? Who defines what the reliable evidence base actually is?”
The report comes from the Bloomberg School of Public of Public Health, which seemingly has placed its entire emphasis on addiction and overdose with opioids. It will gain significant media coverage today (Tuesday, November 11) when it is discussed at the Clinton Health Matters Initiative with participants that include, the Director of White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli, as well as the Director of Science Policy for the Department of Health and Human Services, Christopher Jones. (NOTE: The first hour of this event will be live-streamed from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST at www.jhsph.edu/rxtownhall)
The chronic pain sufferer’s plea for access to rightful and lawful use of prescription pain medicines is again left on the sideline. Even worse, they are utterly discounted.
The school’s press release addresses the pain sufferer’s use of opioids this way:
“Carefully used, opioids provide important pain relief for many patients with acute or post-surgical pain. Up until the late 1990s, prescription opioids were prescribed primarily to cancer patients. They became more widely used as new products were developed and aggressively promoted for wider use.”
Not much said about the 100 million Americans who suffer in chronic pain – many of whom rely on opioid medications to barely get through the day.