by Ed Coghlan.
The NIH Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force concluded its initial two day meeting on Thursday adopting an aggressive timeline to recommend updates to best practices in pain management to federal agencies.
A final report is due in 364 days.
The 28-member group, comprised of academics, practitioners and a pain patient advocate, will draft recommendations that the public will see in early January before the final adoption.
Between now and then, a lot of work must be done.
Three subcommittees were formed;
· One will work on treatment: medication, physical therapy and surgical procedures
· Another will deal with psychological and stigma issues
· A third will look at complementary and alternative medicine, education and access to care.
While these areas are distinct areas of study, they also interrelate which was not lost on any of the participants.
Dr. Howard Field Professor Emeritus of Neurology and Physiology at UC San Francisco addressed the federal bureaucracy issue when he said the CDC has guidelines, the VA has guidelines and the FDA is going to develop guidelines and now the NIH is going to create some guidance.
“It’s a nightmare scenario,” he said. “We need one set of guidelines.”
Dr. Vanila Singh, the Pain Task Force Chair who is the HHS Chief Medical Officer reassured the group that the impact of this work will mean that federal agencies, “will be working in concert and not in silos.”
The task force has been charged with the following:
- Propose updates to pain management best practices
- Issue recommendations that address gaps or inconsistencies for managing chronic and acute pain
- Provide the public with an opportunity to comment on any proposed updates and recommendations
- Develop a strategy for disseminating such proposed updates and recommendations to relevant Federal agencies and general public
- Provide expert advice and recommendations for pain management and prescribing pain medication
While the two days were rich in content with presentations on clinical topics, prevention and treatment, mental health and addiction, special populations and the need for more research, the most interesting moments were when the public was allowed to speak or the Task Force members talked among themselves.
Many members of the public were either chronic pain patients or representatives of organizations that represents groups that suffer from chronic pain.
The impact of the reduction of opioid prescriptions was mentioned several times both by persons who attended the meeting or were on the phone.
As one said, “for those of us with chronic disease, navigating the health care system before the opioid crisis was very difficult. Now, it’s nearly impossible.”
The group will be working in their subcommittees over the next several months and will gather again in Washington, probably in late September.