By Ed Coghlan
While the nation continues to reel from last Tuesday’s surprising election, the National Pain Report wonders what a Trump Presidency can mean for the chronic pain community – a community that numbers 100-million Americans.
The issue of chronic pain wasn’t discussed much in the recent presidential campaign – in fact not much anything of substance was discussed in the Clinton Trump duel.
Mrs. Clinton certainly had as one of her talking points, the problems being caused by the “opioid epidemic”, which was an extension of the commentary driven by the Obama Administration’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
But other than generally pointing out the need to take better care of our veterans (which they talk about every election year), the issue of chronic pain was barely uttered. Not one mention of the National Pain Strategy (NPS) was heard.
By the way, a spokesperson for the National Institutes of Health indicated to the National Pain Report recently that the NPS organizing is about done. All of the members of the key Workgroups in the six sections will be federal stakeholders including nine federal agencies.
The spokesperson added that patient advocacy organizations that have expressed an interest in participating will be able to but that the process will be driven by the federal government.
So what does a Trump Administration think about this effort and the treatment of chronic pain generally?
While it’s way too early to tell, Trump has run a campaign that promises less government interference.
Some key questions have surfaced.
Does a “less government” Trump Administration mean that momentum for the NPS will slow (if you can call the last eight months momentum)?
Does it mean the emphasis on reducing opioid prescription might be lessened?
Does it mean that the government health agencies will be less likely to promote research into the causes and treatment of pain? (I know, they haven’t really been doing all that much)
Do more states approving the recreational and medical use of marijuana mean that the federal government resistance to reclassifying marijuana will lessen?
If Obamacare is going to be rolled back, is that good or bad for the chronic pain patient and those who treat them?
Fair questions, we think, but certainly no answers are evident yet.
What is true during the last year or so, is that the chronic pain community has been frantic about federally mandated changes in treatment.
And while great frustration exists, we’ve seen some progress.
The U.S. Pain Foundation launched its People with Pain Matter campaign and has become markedly more visible in trying to make sure the patients’ needs are being heard.
RSDSA has ignited an interest in developing a reference protocol using ketamine to treat CRPS. A meeting in Chicago recently has sparked real hope that data can be developed to improve how CRPS is identified and treated.
And a group of patients impatient with the lack of progress held a rally – a thus far largely symbolic but nonetheless important event that brought attention to chronic pain patients who believe they are not getting the treatment they deserve.
So what about a Trump Administration?
How will it view chronic pain?
We can hope it will be on their radar.
It should be.