60 Minutes Story:  Reaction From a Chronic Pain Columnist @ NPR

60 Minutes Story: Reaction From a Chronic Pain Columnist @ NPR

by Ed Coghlan, Editor, National Pain Report

Watch question markWhen National Pain Report columnist and chronic pain sufferer Kerry Smith saw 60 Minutes on Sunday, it riled him a bit.

OK, maybe more than a bit.

The Tennessee artist, who has written with great humor and passion about his own chronic pain journey in recent weeks, thought 60 Minutes had missed the mark in its story on heroin addiction.

60 Minutes did a segment on heroin use in Ohio, which it indicated was growing there, as well as nationally, because heroin is cheaper than opioids.

Smith said, “I contacted 60 Minutes to tell them they missed the story,” he told the National Pain Report this week.

The real story he believes that should be told is about chronic pain.

“The story is not about thousands of addicts who are using heroin, but millions of pain sufferers who use pain medication responsibly and are being denied access to it,” he added.

So he wrote the venerable newsmagazine’s producers an email, and to his surprise, they responded.

A production employee for 60 Minutes indicated to Smith via email that they had received his comments and might use them in the show’s viewer comments on this Sunday’s episode. They did warn that the time for viewer comments is often truncated because of the length of segments and the coverage of NFL football on CBS.

Sure enough, Smith followed up with 60 Minutes on Friday via phone and the producer said they didn’t have time for comments but encouraged him to contact correspondent Bill Whitaker and express his concerns.

Smith did that later on Friday via email.

“There are millions of people affected because of the concern over thousands of addicts. I urged them to cover the bigger story, the story about chronic pain.”

What heartened Smith was that he received a response.

“I think other pain patients should do what I did,” Smith told us on Friday. “Let them know politely, but firmly, that the issue is a big one, and they should cover it.”

We urge you to read Kerry’s story that the National Pain Report published on Tuesday about the 60 Minutes episode. (click here)

Kerry’s column received a tremendous amount of reaction both on our website and on the National Pain Report Facebook page as did the other stories that we ran on the 60 Minutes segment. (click here)

By the way, if you want to contact 60 Minutes directly, you can do it here. (click here)

We’ll give you one tip: Kerry Smith’s advice is very good. If you write them and complain and call them names, they’ll ignore it. Write them and communicate your thoughts reasonably and they’ll be more inclined to react.

Let us know if you hear back (editor@nationalpainreport.com)

Finally, Kerry Smith’s art can be seen on this website. Support it if you can.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Thank you for this well-stated post. It’s just fabulous. I have had pain for 8 years and have no good surgical choices (the outcome stats are not good enough to give me courage). So far, I am able to get pain medication in the state where I live. I would not ant to live without it. I have been taken in by the hyperalgesia argument before. I’m very glad to hear that it might not be true. Or isn’t true. Ive contemplated weaning off opiates (I take a low dose), have even started a couple of times, but the pain is too great. Your letter is very interesting. The dialogue on this website is just great. I appreciate it so much.

Laurence badgley


Interestingly, the push by Big Government, Big Insurance, and Big Medicine to outlaw opiate prescribing took off about 2010, the end of the decade that the US, WHO, & UN had jointly and officially declared to be the “Decade to Abolish Pain” in the world. Around this time, a Canadian physiology researcher used a rat model to gather data, despite not being able to talk to his subjects, that enabled him to theorize a novel idea that opiates actually up regulated central nervous system sensitivity to pain stimulation. His theory of “hyperalgesia” was widely reported in the medical arena and became the darling speculation of those who would bowdlerize the use of opiates. Various insurance company physician panels that set company standards for “utilization”, read payment for medications for insurance recipients, especially Worker’s Compensation insurance companies, were drawn to this speculative model of hyperalgesia like rabid dogs to water. Physicians were widely misinformed that “hyperalgesia had been proven”, and the roll back of opiate prescribing in the United States gathered steam. Time magazine put out sensational articles based on overdose deaths in the hills of Kentucky & Tennessee caused by foolish use of opiates gained illicitly. It wasn’t long before the supposed source of illicit “drugs” was speculated to be errant physician prescribers, who were now supposedly being revealed throughout the US. Statistics were manipulated to fabricate proof of an epidemic of opiate overdoses in the United States, with physicians the initiators and culprits. Myth built upon myth until these myths generated dogma, and the medical profession became the convenient scapegoat. Government stepped in using the FDA and Bureau of Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs to frighten medical doctors with loss of license and threats of felony convictions. More than a few doctors were charged with murder because certain of their patients used opiates illicitly, recreationally, and fatally. A big brother attitude prevailed, and the self-inflicted experiences of a few hundred people were massaged into evidence that the masses had to be protected from their own bad habits. Presently, the average physician in the United States is too frightened to prescribe humane opiate treatments; with concern for loss of livelihood and criminal conviction for recommending and prescribing opiate medicinals, which are based on natural molecules found in a plant, the opium poppy. Similar Federal Government scare tactics have been employed, since the late 1930’s, to keep The People from having access to other wonderful natural pain relievers found in the Cannabis plant; even in face of incontestable medical evidence that these natural molecules are absent addictive qualities. The wanton suffering of millions of people with chronic pain is directly resultant from efforts of a few who seek power over the masses; to extort money from them, to incarcerate them, and to use tax money to corral them into pens overseen by armies of highly paid self-serving prison guard cadres often comprised of men with mean and pathologic personalities; all under the color of law.

Laurence E. Badgley, M.D.


gosh, what a story. probably a pretty common one. please, forward your post to the 60 minutes link that was provided here a couple of days ago….they need to hear it. thank you and best of luck. i have pain too, but not as severe as yours. it’s disabling though…cindy


Dear Noksi:

I have heard and read several times about the VA and its despicable new, floundering policies on pain meds for people like you (and us). You do have the most painful problem in the world, not to mention the pain and anxiety you don’t need from the VA. Someone has to get this thing straightened out, and soon. Keep in touch with the Nat’l Pain Report, as they are working very hard right now to get facts and figures out. There’s a lot of writing and reporting going on in the background that you will see.

From a personal point of view, I have tried to commit suicide. I didn’t make it, and when I woke up (intentional overdose) I was at first bummed out that I woke up. But within a day or two I was sickened by what I had done and so grateful that I lived.

I think your idea of living in CA around friends is a really good one. These days, even one true friend is all we need. Go where the medicine is, go where your people are and please, please, don’t take heroin. I’m not misunderstanding you, but I want to see you try the new way of living before you try dying.

Sending my thoughts…Krissy


I am a disabled veteran. I can’t write very much, or maybe very clearly, because I haven’t slept, and I’m in pain.

The South Texas VA Medical Center now requires all patients prescribed opiates to sit through an hour long lecture about how some VA doc in the northern Midwest over prescribed a bunch of vets, how people OD all the time, drive high, and give birth to addicted babies due to their pain pills. I actually felt offended that I had to sit through this talk about people misusing their meds. I have systemic Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, and have been responsibly taking my prescribed medications, and nothing else, in an effort to ease my never-ending, moderate to severe nerve pain for over a decade.

My primary care physician informed me that although I’ve been on the same dosage of opiates for about 5 years, it’s likely the VA will force her to lower my dosage due to the national scandals. She’s not permitted to prescribe me the medications I really need that would be proper replacements for opiates due to VA red tape, but the specialists who can write those scripts aren’t doing their jobs. I actually asked her for those meds years ago, because I truly don’t want opiates; I just happen to need them in this situation.

Should my doctor reduce my pain killers to an ineffective level, I will then either find a way to live with friends in California, where I can eat medicinal marijuana products without the ire of the local police, or the VA treating me like a junkie. Or I will score some heroin for the first time in my life. It’s just that easy. I have the most painful condition known to humankind, and the government is interfering with how my doctor treats me due to outside pressure only to result in me fulfilling the very behaviors that’s causing their scandal.

The third option, and this is an outcome I’m trying very hard to beat, is to commit suicide. 81% of people with CRPS kill themselves, so if the VA wants to give me yet another reason I can add to the stat of 22 vets a day who off themselves. Which scandal would they care to handle? Two birds with one Fentanyl patch.


I accidentally deleted the long response about the cartel. could someone please forward it to thank you


To Kathy:

I would like you to consider me for the Florida conference. I live in Naples, FL. We can chat later as I am on assignment right this minute, but look for my article here on NPR Wednesday.

Krissy Anderson

Kathy Hastings

Thank you for your information regarding the pre-screening questions at the Sunshine Summit event. However, it appears we are not being successful in even raising $500 for a ticket to attend, which is another good way to keep “unwanted” every day, real person from even being able to attend the event. We will not give up on being heard! We advocate for those, who are so ill and writhing in pain and cannot advocate for themselves because each and everyone of us has been in the same position, one time or another. As one of my friends stated just yesterday, “It is easier to advocate for the needed medications, when you have them, than try to get help when you do not have the necessary medications.”

Melisa Haggai

Nice information Ed…I have to go back and watch the 60 Minutes report-I missed original airing.

Sandy Auriene Sullivan

Kathy Hastings, I too am in Florida but there is a town hall for my rep next week. Check with your district. Mine is FL CD 3 and see when your rep will be in your area.

M. L. is on point about the Orlando questions but I am a progressive in a red area [this isn’t a judgement] and know my Congressman on first name basis. Other locals make sure I know of talks by my rep Ted Yoho. He was a vet so he should understand the problems we face. It affects large animal vets. It will be the 5th time I have contacted him and his staff about the issue. I keep getting invited back, despite no change. Good luck!

M. L.

To Kathy Hastings - If you are planning on sending someone to Orlando for the “Sunshine Summit” of the GOP Presidential and State of Florida Candidates to directly speak to the candidates, just know that they pre-screen any and all questions or comments that are to be addressed to the candidates. While admirable, it may be a futile attempt to gain any publicity.
Good luck.

Sandy Auriene Sullivan

Way ahead of you! I posted the article to profile, complained - politely about the bigger story missed to Mr Whitaker and producers at 60 Minutes too.

Please add your voice, if only short and sweet. Put a name to pain patients, your own.

Kathy Cooper

I spend too much time on the Internet reading too much, and following Medical Journals, Scientific Articles and Pain Websites. I also follow Politics and nature stories, and for my sanity I follow comedy and humor. Following the Pain stories, and various Health Care related sites, I am experiencing a lot of Cognitive Dissonance. I have been dealing with chronic pain from my spine for @20 years. I have not seen one iota of improvement in the treatment of people with Chronic Pain, from my observation things have gotten worse. I used to respect 60 Minutes, they used to expose various bad actors and problems in our Country, but now they are merely rehashing old narratives. I think of that Movie, Idiocracy, I know it is stupid and has a lot of low brow humor, but the part where the main character has to explain that the plants need water, not the sports drink, really struck a chord with me. People have been misinformed by “News” stories like the 60 Minutes show. I wrote show, because it was more entertainment than news. It reiterated a long standing Myth, about opiates, Pain patients, and drug addiction. This mythology is why we have had no improvements in either stopping drug addiction, treating chronic pain, addressing the Social Problems plaguing our Country. People want and easy answer, and it is easier to blame chronic pain patients, and drug addicts. I have not seen one Mainstream Media story that explains the real situation of people with Chronic Pain. Every news Story places them in the same category as Drug Addicts, shifting public opinion away from any understanding, compassion, or questions. I have ben met with anger for attempting to “Advocate” or point out facts to people involved in facets of our Health Care Policy or Medical providers. I had to ask myself why? I realized that they have been listening to this false narrative about “Drug Addicts” and people gaming the system, who they blame for all of our societal ills. These “News Articles” have led people to Justify ignoring us, and feeling good about doing it. I have met so many people, elderly and Veterans who have also been treated this way. They are denied even a basic diagnosis, turned away from receiving care. These are people who look like they are in pain, they don’t walk right, use walkers and have a previous diagnosis of a serious health problem. I think of them when I am the target of this kind of nonsense, because I don’t look like I am in pain. I thought that that was part of the problem. The problem is much bigger than that. I used to want to think that our Health Care System should have had an Agenda to maybe save money, avoid long term suffering, maybe get people back to their lives, work, family, etc. That would make sense, but from what I have been observing, that is clearly not the case. One of the… Read more »

Kathy Hastings

Myself, and many others have emailed or left feedback to 60 minutes regarding the plight of the chronic pain patients. I am thrilled to hear, they (60 minutes) actually responded to someone! I know each and every person, I am aware of, who left comments, were very polite and professional in their responses! I am just frustrated that with 1 million chronic pain patients, not one major network, will pick up our story. I will commend Matt Grant and WESH 2 News out of Orlando, Fl. has and continues to cover the story of the inability to receive both medications and treatment for Chronic Pain. I am working with 3 other advocates on a fundraiser to try to raise enough money to send one of our advocates to Orlando for the “Sunshine Summit” of the GOP Presidential and State of Florida Candidates to try to get some media attention to our plight. We are not attempting to do this as being affiliated with any political party; just get our issues to the forefront for the attention it deserves. If anyone would like to make any type of donation (no dollar limit; we are more than willing to accept the loose change a person finds in their home) please contact me at khastings2006@gmail.com. I would love to share the flyer here on this forum, but not sure if allowed. If National Pain Report would like to report on the fundraiser attempt, more than willing to share with them, too! Just tired of not getting any positive action for the chronic pain patients! All of us know, we did not choose this path!

Legalize marijuana people don’t and can’t abuse marijuana we got to get these man made DRUGs away off the streets


Nancy, thank you for your generous post. I”ve been trying to get my dr. (PCP) to order that hormone panel. I”Ve read about it. ….I also went to the CBS posting place and sent them an email. great stuff here….such an important story. the real story is about the mystery of pain. THAT is where the story is, in my view.


The heroine user that I have known only want the opioid meds to help when they don’t have their drug of choice. Addiction can be anything. Same as some people who drink alcohol their first time and end up addicted to alcohol. Not everyone uses because they are addicted, we use opioids for real need to help us function.


Nancy, thanks for sharing your story - I would imagine it’s more like a book than a response, but we need as many people willing, to do what you just did. I am a chronic pain patient of three decades and like you, take opioids for “some” relief. I am on very strong doses of two kinds.

I have been lying in my bed doing research on this problem we have for quite some time, and as a retired writer/editor and researcher I can’t help but get involved. We need our doctors to write more stories too. And while the pharmacists are deathly afraid of publicity in their names, we hope to get them involved somehow without the DEA coming down on them. If your doctors (especially the one in LA) could consider writing on the National Pain Report and other sites, it would be great. Please take one more step and ask them. I am pushing for help for a series of international press releases to go out. I can write them and I believe a friend publicist who is one of the biggest on the Internet might help me get it out. I just need a few people in certain areas of expertise to come forward and enlighten me on facts so I get it all right. Obviously 60 minutes didn’t.

Thank you,


I can so totally identify with this article. I am a registered nurse.My husband is an MD. Infact a large % of my family works in the medical field.When I started down this dark twisting road of pain over seven years ago,I am not sure anyone was taking me seriously.I was even trying to just “get on with it” while also trying to understand what had happened to my once very active healthy body.I will not go into all the places I went and all the treatments I tried-in the end-I was diagnosed with arachnoiditis.It is inflammation of the arachnoid covering(the middle layer)of the spine and brain.I had also developed early on,what is now known as complex regional pain syndrome. My brain was just not going to stop playing that song “PAIN”.All of this was precipitated by what is called tarlov or perineural cyst in my sacral area.In the first two months ,I lost twenty pounds(was a normal weight before this)had alot of skin discoloration in the area of my pain and even tissue changes to the skin.I am thankful for many of the doctors I saw, but I came away with knowing this:they only focus in on their own expertise.They were not putting the pieces of this puzzle together-not in time for me at any rate.I slipped into depression despite my best attempts to fight against it.I was disciplined enough to “keep going” but I dreaded the dawn of each new day.My faith in God is the only thing that ultimately sustained me and eventually lead to some real help.I was fortunate enough that the doctors I saw did believe,at least in part,my pain and therefore I was not denied all pain meds.I was not however given enough to control my pain and really not even enough to have some type of normal life that was not done thru a forced smile and gritting my teeth and literally digging my fingers into the opposite hand.I tried all the alternative measures -accupunture massage,mediatation,healing touch,PT,water therapy-to name a few.The thing that helped me keep my sanity most was reading.I read continually-usually just light fiction.The reading and my ice bags or heating pad became my best friends.Actaully I had lost most of my other friends.Not that they did not want to be there for me-they did and a few close ones-were always a phone call away-but a call I rarely made.I knew their lives had to move on and it was gong to have to be without me. As a nurse,I thought I had always been tuned in to my patient’s pain.I always gave them the benefit of the doubt-even when sometimes my coworkers felt they might be exaggerating.I am so incensed that there is this move to limit the the ability for chronic pain suffers to receive he help they need.We would never think of limiting the amount of insulin a diabetic needed .Nor would we consider not filling a prescription for a person to get their needed dose of thyroid… Read more »

Scott michaels

I dod the same thing witb no response. I also co tacted CNN. They did a report and gave that guy from PROP airtime. The damage from CNN I BELIEVE WAS EVEN WORSE.



I went to the CBS link and made a comment. Thanks for this article!


Ed: this is exactly what we need! Time to take over the dialogue.

Help us figure out how, because no one is listening other than this website. Where do we shout?


Thank you for this post, Ed Coghlan! Done!

Kristin Pereyra

I have chronic pain conditions, and for several years I had many Dr’s give me a variety of pain killers. I’d meet with the same specialist every week, I’d have the same issues and the Dr’s would increase my dose. I was terrified because it seemed no one was counting or keeping track of what they gave me. I began asking my Dr’s if they even knew why I needed so many drugs. My Dr’s would tell me I would be on them for the rest of my life, so I needed to get used to it. I ended up going through several Dr’s before they agreed to help me tritate off of them. I tried many homeopathic ways to help with my chronic pain. I’ve even relocated across the country to a dryer climate. I know I will suffer from chronic pain for the rest of my life. There are days when the most I can accomplished is to change my clothes myself. There are some days when I can function and get out in the world, but it will cost me several days in bed for it.
On the days that my pain is debilitating, a painkiller can help take the sharpness of the pain away. It will never remove the pain entirely, but it helps me to take a deep breath, get up and see my kids live their daily lives. The Dr’s now don’t want to prescribe the painkillers but medicinal herbs. They say the herbs will be better on my body in the long run, but what about my mind. If and when I take my painkiller I don’t feel drugged, I don’t feel high or doppy. When I’ve tried the medicinal I can tell I’m taking a drug, and it doesn’t take away any of my pain, only my ability to care. How am I supposed to raise my four kids like that? Either way is horrible, but the painkiller or opioid has helped me to move when my body is to stiff, to flared up, or just shutting down, and all my nerve damage is screaming at me to not move, don’t breath to deep, don’t let my kids hug me. It just hurts too much. I think society, Dr’s and every other person who think people with chronic pain are all drug addicts should spend one day in our shoes.