By Ed Coghlan.
The Federal Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force held the first of a two-day meeting in Washington – and the voice of the chronic pain patient was heard early in the day.
That’s because the public comment period of thirty minutes essentially started the meeting.
While several spokespersons – from the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Medical Women’s Association – made their organizations case – it was the voice of the chronic pain patient that rang loudest in the public comment period.
Patient Kelly Devine – who is a proponent of natural herbs – said that forced taper of opioids is “fueling the suicide rate.”
Margaret Wilson decried the “moral war against 20 million intractable pain patients.”
Richard “Red” Lawhern from the Alliance for Treatment Intractable Pain made his case that “there is little correlation of the rates of opioid prescribing versus opioid mortality.”
But it was his colleague, Trina Vaughn, a chronic pain patient, who made the strongest patient point.
“Stop the war against people in pain,” she said. “Put the medical decisions back in the hands of the doctor.”
The Task Force was established after the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 to propose updates to best practices and issue recommendations that address gaps or inconsistencies for managing chronic and acute pain.
Two Texas Republicans, both members of the House Rules Committee, made remarks.
Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas urged the task force to “take all the time you need and then make a quick decision” to address what he termed the dreaded opioid problem.
His colleague, Michael Burgess, who is a physician, cautioned against force tapering by saying “We don’t want to change one problem for the other.”
The Task Force noted they have received 3000 comments, mostly from chronic pain patients (83%).
The other results were telling:
· 78% are concerned about access to treatment
· 60% noted decreased functionality
· 25% said they had considered suicide
We will see Wednesday what the recommendations of the Task Force will be.