By Ed Coghlan.
The media and political emphasis on opioid prescribing is continuing to dominate the news in chronic pain.
Is this the week that President Trump actually says something about opioids?
According to this MSNBC story, he promises a “very, very big statement” in the coming weeks. He called it a national emergency ten weeks ago, but nothing has happened since.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), the man the president appointed to lead a White House opioid commission, conceded recently that Trump’s inaction is “not good.”
Some medical device companies are taking advantage of the emphasis on opioids to promote earlier uses of their alternative therapies.
One of them, Abbott Labs, took advantage in the last week by promoting their spinal cord stimulator.
In 2016, about 34,000 people underwent spinal cord stimulation around the world. For now, the majority of people get the implants after failing other treatments and back surgeries.
Abbott claims that their research is turning up evidence that using the devices sooner rather than later could decrease opioid use and healthcare costs.
Abbott also found in a study that for the 5,400 patients who received spinal cord stimulation therapy, their opioid use stabilized or declined in 70% of the patients, compared to their use of the drugs before getting the treatment.
“It should not be a last-resort therapy. In some patients, it should be the first choice,” Dr. Nagy Mekhail, a pain physician at the Cleveland Clinic told MIT Technology Review.
For many years, the National Pain Report has been quoting pain management physicians that medical schools need to a better job of teaching future doctors about pain. U.S. News and World Report said this week that the opioid “crisis” is spurring change at medical schools in how pain is treated.
Nobody wants the patient to suffer because their pain was undermanaged,” says Dr. Karen Sibert, an anesthesiologist and associate clinical professor with the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California—Los Angeles.
Sibert told the magazine that most medical schools have bolstered the amount of training they provide on opioid alternatives, including intravenous versions of non-narcotic pain medicines and medical procedures that numb portions of the body where pain is present.