For many people who believe that the federal government’s emphasis on pain medication has gone too far, there’s a physician in Southern California who has studied this issue for years that is seen as a voice of reason. He’s been speaking out.
Dr. Forest Tennant of West Covina, California specializes in pain management and drug addiction. He is a strong advocate for intractable pain patients, holding that opioids can be safe and effective even applied over long durations, and helped push the “Pain Patient’s Bill of Rights” law through the California legislature. Tennant has authored over 200 articles and books, including many to help intractable pain patients, and is editor-in-chief of the journal Practical Pain Management.
He is distributing a position statement on the opioid controversy that he says (and you’d have to agree) is quite simple.
- We have a long-standing standard knowns the World Health Organization 3 Step Analgesic Ladder which was developed in 1982. Only when non-opioid treatments fail are opioids used because about everyone knows they have complications.
- There cannot be a cap on dosages as patients vary. The government should certify and recognize the MDs who will prescribe high dose opioids so patients who need high dosages can get the help they need.
- Patients who are currently on opioids and doing well should be left on them.
Tennant operates a pain management clinic, Veract Intractable Pain Clinic in West Covina, California. Like many physicians who treat patients, he is puzzled about what he believes is an overreaction by the government which is causing real harm.
As he wrote in Practical Pain Management this month:
“The hostility of patients and their families that is being generated by the dosage restrictions is neither necessary nor appropriate. Frankly, it appears to me that most of the government agencies including the CDC are not being forthright about two issues. First, should not the legacy patients on high opioid dosages get a chance to testify and be heard? Most of the hostility that is related to me by patients and families is that the CDC and other agencies won’t consider listening to or appreciating the patients on high opioid doses. What happened to America as a Democracy? The second issue is which doctors should provide high-dose opioids to the few patients who have clearly benefited from these doses and who need them? We issue all kinds of special permits to doctors. Why not a certificate for the physicians who will take on these cases?”