“The reaction is that we are glad the (pain) patient’s voice is being heard on this, which is why we did this in the first place.”
Those words from Dr. Steve Passik, Vice President of Clinical Research and Advocacy at Millennium Health who was the chief spokesperson for a survey that assesses the impact of the DEA’s decision to make it more difficult for chronic pain patients to receive prescriptions of hydrocodone.
The National Pain Report filed this story on the survey over the weekend. The survey is sponsored by the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, Millennium Research Institute, American Academy of Pain Management (AAPMgt) and PRA Health Sciences.
The initial results were announced at the American Academy of Pain Management meeting in Maryland.
The study reveals that 88% of patients believe the change denies chronic pain patients their right to adequate pain treatment, and 72% say it is harmful to pain patients.
“Society has really struggled to deal with the prescription drug abuse epidemic and the epidemic of chronic pain,” Passik said. “At times, a positive impact on one has a negative impact on the other.”
We asked Passik whether he thought the DEA’s decision to crack down on hydrocodone prescriptions has had an unintended consequence on the patient. He said the people that took the time answer the survey catalogued all sorts of problems in access, inconvenience, and the impact on the doctor patient relationship.
“Prescription drug abuse is a massive problem and we have to deal with it, but I’d also to see more consideration given to the person in pain in the dialogue going forward,” he added.
Kathy Leeper is a retired registered nurse who lives in Iowa. She is a chronic pain sufferer who captured much of the considerable attention our original reporting attracted from our readers.
“I’m truly amazed how poorly pain is treated in our country.” she wrote to the National Pain Report.
Passik, who is a PhD and has worked both in industry and in academia says that efforts must be undertaken to make pain management safe and effective without necessarily hindering access to people who need medicine.
“Where opioids are concerned we dramatically expanded their use and then we went from having one tremendous public health problem, chronic pain to having two by adding the problem of prescription drug abuse and the pendulum has been swinging between the two to try and figure out an effective strategy to keep people with pain treated and to avoid, abuse, addiction, overdose and death.”
Dr. Passik added, “There’s a feeling that perhaps the pendulum swung a bit far in the opioid direction. We need to get that pendulum back in the middle again.”
Like dozens other letters we received, Samantha Adcock wrote to the National Pain Report about the impact of the DEA decision.
“Instead of making obtaining needed prescriptions more difficult for chronic pain patients legislators and government agencies should look into ways to reduce the need for pain medication. Until that happens the need for pain management medication will not decrease and chronic pain patients will continue to be mistreated and maligned by society in general, legislators and the governmental regulatory agencies.”
The survey, which attracted a far great number of women respondents than men, will remain online. They are especially interested on more men filling out the survey, which can be accessed here.
Other key findings of the survey are:
Patient Perspective: A majority of patients (52%) expressed an increased sense of stigma about being a pain patient
Patient Withdrawal: Patients noted experiencing withdrawal due to the regulation change, 15% because of the difficultly in seeing their HCP
Patient Challenges: 53% of patients say they are forced to drive more often to see their health care provider, with 42% driving an additional 20 miles or more to see their HCP
“Efforts to make pain management safe and effective without necessarily hindering access to people who need medicine,” Passik added.
Passik expects that the considerable data that has been (and will be) collected will inspire a medical journal paper later this year.
Editor’s Note: We have also noticed in our own surveys at the National Pain Report that we receive a disproportionately large amount of women responding.