One thing that the Obama and Trump Administrations have in common is they have both pretty much ignored the implementation of the HHS/NIH National Pain Strategy.(NPS)
The ambitious multi-faceted approach to treating chronic pain was finished in 2016—and since then has languished in federal bureaucracy. In fact, the three-year anniversary of its release is March 18.
One reason it hasn’t gone very far was that the CDC Guideline for Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain was also released in 2016—and it has hijacked the conversation about the best way to treat chronic pain ever since.
There were signs of life about trying to create some momentum to resurrect the plan stirring at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine which was held in Denver last week.
Over the weekend one of the driving forces behind creating the strategy, Sean Mackey, M.D., Ph.D., was on social media promoting the National Pain Strategy.
Mackey, who is Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine and Redlich Professor of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Neurosciences and Neurology at Stanford University, in two separate tweets said:
“Roughly 50-100 million Americans are living with ongoing pain. Over 130 Americans die every day from opioid overdose. Solutions are urgently needed to the conflicting crises in chronic pain and prescription opioid use. We laid out a clear plan to transform our country’s care of the person in pain in the HHS/NIH National Pain Strategy. We need to come together to enact this important plan.”
The strategy recognized six main areas:
- Professional education and training—because too many doctors and other providers don’t understand chronic and acute pain nearly well enough.
- Public education and communication—if the opioid controversy of the last two years has taught us anything it’s that people don’t understand chronic pain.
- Disparities—there are many vulnerable, underserved and stigmatized populations who aren’t treated well enough.
- Prevention and Care—three years later there’s still a need to develop methods and metrics to monitor and improve the prevention and management of pain.
- Services and Payment—what’s covered by insurance and what it costs
- Population Research—how many people live in chronic pain, where they live and what type of care they receive or don’t receive need to be updated and better defined. (see below)
Dr. Mackey is right to promote the NPS again.
And all this reminds us that the April 1st deadline for public comment for the NIH/HHS Pain Management Best Agency Task Force is fast approaching.
Dr. Vanila Singh, who is Chief Medical Officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services chaired the Pain Task Force and is encouraging people to let their voices be heard.
You can do so here.
By the way, one more thing: the largest chronic pain patient survey which we’ve been promoting since late last spring is going to be closed soon.
Terri Lewis, Ph.D., told the National Pain Report that she plans to close it at the end of the month or when they reach 5000 respondents. Over 1000 people have responded in the last month. If you haven’t already done it, please do. We’d like to help Dr. Lewis reach the 5000 mark.
You can take the survey here.
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