By Ed Coghlan.
As the US Food and Drug Administration prepares for a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Chronic Pain on Monday (July 9) it appears that the mainstream media are beginning to understand the other side of the opioid story.
Federal agencies—led by the CDC from a policy point of view and the DEA from enforcement—have been pressuring doctors, pharmacists and insurers to reduce opioid prescribing, under the impression that the opioid “crisis” was being fueled by overprescribing.
This will be a big topic at Monday’s FDA meeting. The agency says it is interested in hearing patients’ perspectives on chronic pain, views on treatment approaches, and challenges or barriers to accessing treatments for chronic pain. FDA is particularly interested in hearing from patients who experience chronic pain that is managed with analgesic medications such as opioids, acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants; other medications; and non-pharmacologic interventions or therapies.
We should all listen in and, where appropriate, participate.
At the National Pain Report, we’ve been wondering when the media would begin to understand that the crackdown on opioids—aimed understandably at opioid misuse—is also actually punishing millions of chronic pain patients who use opioids to manage their pain.
In recent days, it appears that the media have begun to see there are at least two (probably many more) sides to the story.
USA Today had a story in the past week that explicitly wondered about the impact of the opioid crackdown on the chronic pain community.
And then this week, Rick Lunkenheimer opined in Huffington Post about why people suffering from chronic pain may need opioids to manage their pain. He said they may be dangerous for some, but they help him live his life.
One of the smartest people in this field is Michael E. Schatman, Ph.D. who is Director of Research and Network Development at Boston Pain Care and the Department of Public Health & Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. He thinks the chronic pain story has been dramatically unreported. Here’s what he told the National Pain Report.
“For too many years, the mainstream media have dwelled on the “evils of opioids” – buying into the anti-opioidists’ rhetoric and hyperbole. During the prescription opioid crisis, there were nevertheless millions of individual patients whose quality of lives were improved dramatically by rational opioid prescribing. Tragically, the media failed to share any of these “feel-good” stories, choosing to follow the policy of “if it bleeds, it leads”. Patients and pain care provided are excited to see the mainstream media finally stepping up to the plate, reporting more frequently on the life-shattering impact of recent draconian state laws that have resulted in millions of patients who were faring well on chronic opioid therapy without aberrancy being involuntarily tapered off of these life-saving medications”.
Remember to sign up for the FDA meeting on Monday.