Will Opioids Be Part of Obama’s State of the Union Address?

Will Opioids Be Part of Obama’s State of the Union Address?

The topic of opioids, particularly as they relate to addiction and overdose (as opposed to treatment of chronic pain) has inserted itself in the fast-moving madness of politics.

This is evidenced by presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle addressing the topic of opioid addiction, and by the way in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DCD) secretively attempted to significantly reduce access to opioids in its controversial Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, which Congress and others have questioned.

Tonight, President Obama delivers his final State of the Union address to the joint session of Congress, where he will discuss economic progress, action on climate change, global American leadership, health care reform, social progress and equality, according to WhiteHouse.gov.

One thing many of the 100 million Americans who suffer in chronic pain wonder is, “Will the topic of opioids be raised, and if so, will pain sufferers be represented?”

Look at some of the invited guests and the answer seems clear.

The First Lady historically invites guests that exemplify the themes and ideals that the President lays out in his address.  This year, 24 seats are located in the box with the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden and Valerie Jarrett. Twenty three individuals have been invited, and one seat will be left vacant as a statement about victims of gun violence.

One of the First Lady’s guests is Cary Dixon.  Cary is an opioid reform advocate whose adult son has a prescription abuse disorder.  Dixon’s experience represents the Administration’s position on opioids, which is, “prescription drug abuse and heroin use have taken a heartbreaking toll on too many Americans and their families.”

Other guests who will sit with the First Lady include a Syrian refugee, a mayor from Shelby County, TN, a same-sex marriage advocate, a police chief, an Affordable Care Act “navigator,” the CEO of Microsoft, among others.  Each represent something that is important to the President’s legacy or his going-forward political agenda.  Each represent different slices of America – some very small, and a few large.  None represent the 100 million Americans in pain.

Some members of Congress have invited guests that have a position on opioids.

Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) have invited Mass. Attorney General, Maura Healey, who will attend the speech and push for federal help combating opioid abuse.

Healey is known for making Amphastar Pharmaceuticals pay the state $325,000 to cover the cost of Narcan, which had risen from about $22 per dose to $65 per dose.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has invited Don Flattery, who lost his son to an opioid overdose in 2014. Flattery has become an advocate in the fight against opioid addiction and is a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse. Sen. Kaine introduced legislation to help prevent opioid overdose deaths by encouraging physicians to co-prescribe naloxone alongside opioid prescriptions and by making naloxone more widely available in federal health settings.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-ILL) has invited Mark Filler, who lost is son to a heroin overdose in 2014, and is an advocate for increasing access to naloxone.  Filler started the Jordan Michael Filler Foundation, which promotes the message that substance abuse is a medical disease that should be treated accordingly.

America does have a serious opioid addiction and overdose problem.  And, it needs to be addressed.

The growing fear is that the government’s proposed solutions to the addiction and overdose problem may do great harm to people in pain by limiting access to critically important care and pain medicines.  As such, there is a growing fear that only one side of a two-sided issue will be heard.

The State of the Union address starts at 9:00 pm ET.

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Authored by: Doug Lynch

There are 11 comments for this article
  1. Nancy Mangano at 4:47 pm

    as a very young it started with my legs hurting all the time only too be told it was growing pain and I am still waiting to be over 5′ and I am over 50 now..I now have many health problems that I just don’t want too list on line..I do not want to go too a pain place or as I call drug pushers but my doctor in fear of what is going on with all this stuff about the druggies he refuses too up my dose..I suffer in pain everyday and NO one is listening to us the people who live in pain everyday and just want it to go away or not be as bad so we can just getting in and out of a car ( the next day the pain is so over a 10 ) why should I have too beg just too easy my pain I live with everyday of my life..

  2. Scott michaels at 11:02 am

    TODAY IS THE LAST DAY YOU CAN COMMENT TO THE CDC REGARDING THEIR ILLEGAL OPIOID GUIDELINES. REGULATIONS .GOV
    LOOK UNDER EXPIRING TODAY ONCE OPENAKE YOUR COMMENT. HAVE EVERYONE YOU KNOW COMMENT AS WELL. ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE NOT BEEN ADVOCATES FOR US,THOSE THAT LIVE IN CHRONIC PAIN AND ADVOCATES FOR DRUG ADDICTS, WE AT LEAST HAVE DOCUMENTATION FOR ANY FUTURE RECOURSE WE MAY NEED TO TAKE. THE MAIN THING IS TO TELL YOUR STORY, EXPLAIN WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE BEFORE AND AFTER YOUVE BEEN ON OPIOID THERAPY AND MOST IMPORTANT WHAT YOU BELIVE YOUR LIFE WILL BE LIKE IF YOUR MEDICATION IS REDUCED OR TAKEN AWAY ENTIRELY. THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO SAY SOMETHING, DO NOT COUNT ON OTHERS. ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF

  3. Brooke at 8:01 am

    Well, of course he mentioned it in his speech! Pain patients aren’t being heard and no one is explaining to these elected officials the discrepancies in overdose statistics. Actual opioid prescribed chronic pain patients aren’t separated from addicts who stole or “copped” pain meds from OD statistics. Fentanyl-laced heroin–the majority of heroin out there–is not fleshed out either. In other words, the majority of heroin overdoses are from drug dealer manufactured fentanyl-laced heroin. Therefore, every overdose of this type shows as a prescription drug overdose in the statistics though the fentanyl was never prescribed or intentionally taken. It’s like the movie The Big Short. I’ve been warning people across the country you will end up like me here in upstate New York with no doctors who prescribe, save one guy an hour away. Like the guys in that movie who warned about the mortgage crisis, people in my chronic pancreatitis and pain support groups refused to believe their doctor would ever turn to the “dark side” and cut them off. It’s coming people. We are not being heard so be prepared. After last night’s announcement, doctors will be cutting patients off in droves. The Big Short in the world of opioid chronic pain management is happening.

  4. Kristine (Krissy) at 8:27 pm

    A lot of thumbs are in a lot of pies that represent the voice for continued use of opioids, when effective and used properly, for chronically ill pain patients. Along with that voice comes a responsibility to protect and care for those who do not respond to opioids, but to other treatments, and to general mental and physical health, veterans, children, addicts and seniors.

    If someone can figure out a way to unite all the thumbs into only one pie, there would be a golden megaphone and it would be heard loudly and clearly. It’s all about planning, organizing, appointing, assigning, tenacity, and business sense, just like it is with taking a product to market.

    I suppose if ideas like that worked, we wouldn’t have war either.

    My voice is hoarse and my tears are stuck.

  5. Pamel at 8:18 pm

    Does anyone believe that would end up kiling themselves without there opioid pain medication? I have thought and thought about this especially when the CDC announced chronic pain pain patients could let their voices be heard. I have had CRPS since 2007 at first i believed it would go away until I found out 2 years later I would have it for the rest of my life only because my sympathetic nerve was severed. So it affected both legs and I’m against drugs narcotics. So I would pace in my bedroom for hours with my pills in my hand until I couldn’t take the pain. I would stay up day and night 3 and 4 nights straight then crashh for 5 hours because the would be so intense when my legs weren’t moving. They where on fire literary the pain meds helped yes but I just didn’t like it making me feel stupid. That went on until recently when I was in a car accident and it broke my leg and took my pacing away from me. Now I’m stuck in bed as I have had to have the same surgery twice. I believe now that CDC has it all wrong that our bodies are made to fight or flight in our situation our fight is with opoids our flight will will be death because we will have nothing to fight for in as much pain our bodies are in. Its a natural instinct our bodies can only take too much pain then you slowly loose control of every organ and you die. So CDC lies that everyone can take pain, if you have true legitimate pain then they take your opoids away then deaths will soon follow!

  6. BL at 6:22 pm

    The newly elected governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, has announced that he will be expanding Medicaid. It is anticipated that President Obama will annouce this tonight during his State Of The Union Address. Louisiana Medicaid does Not pay Pain Management Drs now and it is highly doubtful that will change with the expansion. If someone is receiving Louisiana Medicaid, and they need chronic pain management they can pay out of pocket $150-$250 a month. Many of those are on SSI for painful impairments.

    In October 2012, a Medicaid Providers Update states that Pain Management Drs need to be the ones that prescribe pain meds for chronic non ternimal related pain. Very, very few pcp’s will prescribe pain meds for chronic pain for those on Louisiana Medicaid. There are very few specialists in certain parts of the state that will prescribe pain meds for chronic pain.

    The Medicaid Manged Care Organizations that manage Louisiana Medicaid through Bayou Health have providers listed that accept Medicaid And Medicare Only with those that accept Medicaid Only, so it is very comfusing if you look for Pain Management Drs, until you call to make an appointment and are told that they do Not accept Medicaid Only.

    In a nutshell, Medicaid Expansion will he helpful to those that need basic health care and help with paying for their prescriptions, but it won’t help those that need to see pain management drs. There are also very few private providers that accept Medicaid Only.

  7. Terry at 6:00 pm

    If marijuana was legal there would be very less cases of overdoses the medicine the doctors gives u can hurt u more more then what’s wrong with u marijuana can help so many ways other than the gateway drugs that give u

  8. I. Hollis at 4:20 pm

    Well here’s the link that spelled this all out in March 2016 from HHS. The entire focus is on addiction treatment and overdose prevention, which is a worthy cause, but ZERO mention of pain patients, except that it says doctors are the gatekeepers fueling this epidemic! Yes, there were a few bad apples, but it is outrageous and a lie to make it look like this is what is causing all this illegal drug problem! FY2016 Budget providing 99 million more dollars than 2015 to combat addiction. Mentions back in March how CDC guidelines will be developed for outside the setting of end-of-life-care. No mention of compassionate care and uses Washington Sate workman’s comp. experiment as the example of success!
    Here it all is and now we are watching this unfold.
    Human rights time, please! Time for a national “pain patients bill of rights” as pain patients are becoming the most despised and are facing the most bias of any population out there.
    God help the innocent, caring doctors and legitimate pain patients. We have to see compassion and mercy return to medicine and government. Let the doctors practice medicine as they are trained to do. How did we become so callous as a nation?
    Especially of those who are the most vulnerable? It’s just wrong.

    https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/opioid-abuse-us-and-hhs-actions-address-opioid-drug-related-overdoses-and-deaths

  9. Jean Price at 3:04 pm

    I understand addiction is a problem….but that’s just it! Addiction is the problem, not opioids! People who live with chronic pain use opioids to be able to function, sometimes even minimally, within the boundaries of their pain. The issue for them is chronic pain, not chronic opioid use. That we who have chronic pain and use opioids are not represented in this group tonight is fine…IF the issue at hand is only addiction. But if the issue is opiod use and prescribing…then we certainly should be represented! I have used medication for over 25 years. My brain chemistry has undoubtly changed, but I am far from being addicted! I take medication for physical pain to function at a level of self care….not so I can feel euphoric or escape the world. It is humiliating enough to have to jump through the hoops of pain policy, please don’t make it worse by confusing legitimate health care need with addiction issues. The two are not the same period. I am a person who has pain, not a policy or a social issue or a criminal. I expect to be treated as a person who is trying to have a positive, loving, active as possible life following three failed back surgeries, breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, two neck surgeries, osteoarthritis, and numerous other medical conditions. I am fortunate to have the tools to deal with the changes and losses and grief that have come with my medical issues. But those tools alone would not help me be the wife and mother and grandmother and friend that I can be with a little help from pain medication. Please keep me and the thousands like me in mind, when you are thinking about opioids use. It’s an entirely different group who needs your help with addiction problems.

  10. Donna at 2:07 pm

    Name one thing this administration has done that wasn’t politically motivated (or any other admin, for that matter). I am not surprised that they will put on a political show once more. This should be left to medical professionals, not career politicians and party planners.

  11. Roberta Henry at 1:39 pm

    Opioid medication is necessary for my rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia conditions. I’ve had to go without it in the past, and I can hardly move. I’m deeply concerned about the doctors who don’t want to prescribe opioids, and who make a person feel guilty for taking them. If I take my medications responsibly, then I should be able to continue to take them. It’s not my fault that there are people who will abuse medications. There are people who abuse any number of things — should we have to pay for that in some way?