Pennsylvania Chronic Pain Update

Pennsylvania Chronic Pain Update

From time to time we at the National Pain Report check in to see what different states are doing on the chronic pain issue. A couple of things out of Pennsylvania this week caught our eye.

First it looks like the Keystone State is going to make access to opioid painkiller prescriptions for adults even stricter. The State Senate voted on a number of bills—one of which imposes a seven-day limit on opioid prescriptions for all adults. In 2016 the state put similar limits on prescriptions for minors and emergency room patients.

The bill maintains exceptions for the judgement of the doctor—but chronic pain advocates are worried about the practical application of that given that many doctors are very aware of the scrutiny that comes with prescribing opioids.

Another story that caught our attention is that half of the medical marijuana/cannabis issued in the state are for severe or chronic pain.

WITF—an NPR station that serves the state’s capital city of Harrisburg—filed a right to know request with the Pennsylvania State Department of Health.

Pennsylvania legalized medical cannabis in 2016 and has issued over 105,000 medical marijuana permits since then.

Post-traumatic stress disorder accounts for 14 percent of those permits, the second most-commonly requested qualifying medical condition.

Neuropathies - conditions that affect the nervous system - are the third most-common qualifying condition, making up about 9 percent of applicants. Cancer and remission therapy make up 8 percent of certifications.

Three percent of applications — 3,334 people — sought medical marijuana to treat opioid use disorder that hasn’t responded to “conventional therapeutic interventions,” or as a supplement to other therapies.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has been a hawk on the opioid issue—charging that three of four heroin users started by using prescription opioids. He is part of that bi-partisan coalition of Attorneys General that is targeting manufacturers.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Gina Shugarts

I have read every single comment on this article. 98% are from CPP’s like myself that are only trying to be HEARD. And we have every damn right to be. We are the ppl that only want to live our best lives the BEST WAY WE KNOW HOW. And if that’s having to rely on our opioid medications just to get friggin dressed in the morning, let alone be able to work a full time job, to make a living to pay our bills & take care of our families THEN WE HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO DO SO!! Damnit, who does the government think they are pigeon holing is into one group?! Who are they to treat law abiding, tax paying citizens like addicts instead of the CPP or IPP patients that we are??? What gives them the RIGHT to override HIPPA & Dr/Patient confidentiality?!! And ONLY pain patients have to have their medical records handed over & read by the government who have NO RIGHT knowing a persons personal CONFIDENTIAL MEDICAL RECORDS?? Are cancer patients, diabetics, HIV positive individuals,’MS, etc…ANY PERSON WITH A MEDICAL CONDITION required to do so also? NO. Only patients that require pain medications to live a semi normal life under THEIR DRS CARE. All of us are on different levels of pain, & tolerance of that pain depending on the years we’ve been suffering. But we’re all being treated the same way bc why? The CDC, FDA, etc who know NOTHING of any of us, & are NOT trained medical professionals said so?! F#%+ THAT!!!! We have the same damn rights as anyone else to be treated by our Drs based on OUR conditions & treatment plan(s) & how we respond to said treatments. We need to be more vigilant & LOUDER so that these non medical asshats finally HEAR US!!! Our PCP’s should still be able to prescribe our meds without having to go to a “pain management” office to receive our meds from “Drs” who mostly started out as chiropractors & now all of the sudden are “pain specialists”!! Out of damn control…& unfair


This whole “opioid crisis” is just plain crazy. This is not an all or nothing issue!! It’s about real people with real pain! I was told to take 3000 mg of Tylenol daily! What a joke! Hey now let’s wreck my liver. I’m a full retirement package for my doctors now!

I suspect that the heroin users received the “precription opiods” illegally and were not true pain patients. False news as usual with this issue?


This report is for idiots. How dare these ‘numbers’ pertain to so many patients, when everyone is different. People will be buying, and using illegal drugs since the government has classified doctors as ‘dealers’,and patients as addicts. This report is dangerous, and millions of patients will be dead, or wish they were, if these kind of articles go public,without any concern for pain, or truth, in general. The agenda is clear. The government no longer cares about the very people who vote them into office, or the hard working, dedicated, and knowledgable doctors who work so hard to treat patients with respect, caring, and ongoing empathy. Soon, doctors will be quitting thieir careers due to the disrespect, and reporting of how little they know. Doctors went to medical school, not politicians. WHAT HAPPENED TO ANDREW KOLODNY’S ADMISSION THAT THE OPIOID GUIDELINES WERE NOT MEANT FOR PAIN PATIENTS? These lies are very dangerous. We know how dangerous it is to approach an injured animal. People are not animals, but pain is pain. What makes it even worst is people are told we have a right not to be in pain,yet here we are, and it is not getting better, it is getting worst. How dare the government tell educated doctors how they are allowed to treat pain.Yes, there are limits, but let the doctors decide, based on individual knowledge. The pain community better stand-up sooner, and stronger, before America loses the very rights so many have fought, and (increasingly) die for. What about Mr. Kolodny’s stating heroin and fentanyl were, and are, the targeted culprits, not people in pain? Enough is enough. I believe we know why-nothing has been accomplished in gaining control of illegal drug trafficking, so instead, the CDC, etc. has to report something-they need to make the public think we are winning the war on drugs, but it is only getting stronger. Instead pain patients, and educated doctors are paying the price.

I was just watching a show called Flint . it’s about Flint Michigan where the state is trying to save money because it was going broke and gave the town of Flint water from the river system which was highly polluted with lead. The city was ignoring the people’s pleas and their children being poisoned by the lead. But these people were able to get information and there were people higher up in the system that they got to help them fight. Just like in Flint Michigan the people in charge save money but severely hurt people and children. Just like they’re doing across the USA there restricting opiates and people are dying and they just don’t care. Flint Michigan is a good example of Rogue government.


Can you research whats going on in Ohio? Some Ohio doctors have compared government to the Gestapo when it comes to prescribing opioids?

Don Whimpey

If only people that don’t deal with pain everyday could understand why opioids are important to those who use them. For me if I didn’t have an option I’d be at home all day. Not being to exercise and t wouldn’t be able to take care of myself.

Connie Woods

When you get your orders from The President, you do your job.
It’s important to know how a person stands on Healthcare and vote those people in. That’s the only way this will change. He stated he would fix the drug problem and to him that’s the answer. Doesn’t care abbout the patients who need it. PA was one of those states that has a high OD problem

Barbara Sheridan

A 7 day prescription opioid limit is basically a death sentence for those like me who have been forced to travel great distances in order to find doctors willing to treat chronic pain. I now travel an hour and a half one way to my doctor as well as the only pharmacy that not only has my medicine in stock every month but also treats me with dignity and respect. As most of us know we have to take the appointments that are available so if that means even one day before the 30 days is up …insurance won’t allow a refill so that’s another hour and a half trip back to fill the script. If I am forced to see my doctor every 7 days I won’t be able to afford the co-pays the gas the pain in my legs from sitting that long over and over again. Plus I fear my doctor will grow frustrated with the burden my presence will place on her already over booked schedule. Somebody just shoot me now. I give up….they win…why bother fighting so hard to function in a society that doesn’t want us around. I just can’t face the humiliation anymore….how dare I be sick….shame on me I guess.

Thomas Wayne Kidd

I would encourage all to look into something called “Agenda 21” and read all you can about it. Population control is a main objective in this Antichrist idea. Bringing all people under the control of a few is beginning. Those who refuse to understand, of are ignorant of the fact that we are living in the time of what Jesus Christ called the tribulation. The end of this earth and evil is soon to come, but sadly millions and millions will not realize this truth until flaming heavenly bodies begin raining down on the earth. I have been telling and warning people most of my soon to be 67 years but not many have listened and fewer today than ever before want to hear anything about the judgment and the coming of Jesus Christ in the clouds with all His Holy Angels. Mostly or want sweet stories and no alarms sounded to disturb their sin filled lives. I have been noticing that little is said about Jesus Christ on the comments here. I am not ashamed of my Redeemer and must proclaim Him and His Salvation every chance I have. Also you out there who have neglected opening up the Bible, His revealed Word, I exhort you all to begin reading what it actually says and measure your pastors and preachers, whether they are speaking truth. False prophets and false Christ (those who claim to be Christ -like are making merchandise of the gullible and unlearned. That Book tells and warns us of these characters. I am a chronic pain sufferer, and I feel for all like me. But I have learned THE TRUTH and I must be honest and sincere with you and all my fellow humans. WAKE UP, WAKE UP, He is faithful who promised, and He promised to return for His own. Your fellow suffferer and a servant of Jesus Christ in truth and deed. Thomas Kidd

Thomas Wayne Kidd

Money and profits are behind these greedy bastards and they care nothing for the sick and dying. Their actions will only results in more deaths and more illegal drugs flowing into the country. Fools never learn, never learn that morality cannot be legislated. In fact each time these politicians try this failed attempt things only grow worse. And what amazes me is the lack of wisdom and knowledge supposedly educated doctors have. The idea of do no harm means nothing. “Do no harm” has become “Make more money”. I have trusted my Redeemer Jesus Christ for a long time and I will continue until the end. I feel so bad for those who don’t have Him as their Lord and Saviour. This is but a prelude to the great suffering which is soon coming. Seek God while there is time. “Behold, now is the accepted time, Behold, now is the DAY OF SALVATION.” (2 nd. Corinthians 6:2).

Rebecca Hollingsworth

I am waiting for my comments to be posted.

Shelly McNew

You don’t care about people’s quality of life . You care about numbers. And your medical marijuana program is not affordable for those who are disabled by pain anxiety depression and multiple diseases people deal with . I have ten different medical issues. If you get help with housing, it’s still illegal to have the medical marijuana. So stop blowing smoke up our asses. I’m tired of others telling me what my body needs . You can’t even get treated at a emergency room anymore. Right now I’d rather die then have to live the way I have. Start asking the people who are struggling what they need . Stop dictating what we are aloud to do with our bodies. Stop pulling meds from people and send them home to deal with it in their own . Start caring about those who are suffering and will suffer even more with this bill . Your medical marijuana program sucks , get it ironed out with the other state and federal agencies.

Robert Stanley

The biggest drug you don’t talk about and you sell it never ties it on TV it’s beer yes beer causes more deaths domestic violence brain damage it kills the brain cells but you don’t talk about that that’s all folks that have a lot of arthritis and have a lot of pain it don’t abuse it you’re punishing us Maybe you get the kickback from all these are the drug companies of sell over the counter stuff that makes a stomach bleed and kills your liver Your bullship How much money are you people put in your pocket


Yeah Mr Shapiro’s statistic of three out of four heroin users starting with prescription painkillers? Gee I wonder why we’re driven to it because they take our medications away I cannot function for pain I worked 40 years I’m 57 years old I love the work I can’t move and they take my pain meds away this is ridiculous we need to get these people out of office. I was never much one for politics but I guarantee you they’re going to hear my voice now we need these people gone or they need to recognize what really is.

We have a governor, Tom Wolf who is anti opioid so what can you expect. He made the comment on video a while back that he had a procedure and only needed pain medicine for three days. Shortly thereafter I wrote that I would like to ask Wolf why he did not suffer and do without the pain medicine like he wants us to do. He did not need it either! I have had no treatment of any kind since Mar. 4th. My Percocet was taken from me by my former pain doctor, I say former because I fired him the day he took my medicine. I refused to be abused by him any longer and put up with the games he played.I knew a long time ago that Pennsylvania was going to basically outlaw opioids. I read the recent CDC report on suicide statistics. What they did not include was the number of people who committed suicide because they were in pain. What is being done to people in pain is hideous and diabolical. If I could ease my pain without a pill I would gladly do so. I have never had a day in my life without pain and now I sit and suffer for no good reason. My former pain doctor asked me the day he took my medicine why I couldn`t bare through the pain and I told him “Because it hurts!”. There is no mercy for pain patients. All this is a money making scam to push marijuana and a multitude of other “modalities”. It is also a human rights violation. We will see more of this as our society races down the path to kill all who are not perfect and to kill the unwanted such as our babies, both the unborn and the ones who survive abortion. A society crumbles when human life is devalued and God is forgotten. If I do not get help soon I will be trying Kratom.

The politicians are so ignorant.
# 1. if they need medication for pain do you think they’re going to suffer no. # 2. they’re going to cause more suicides and on the national news they said there are extremely high rate of suicides and they can’t figure out why. Well it’s very simple but they don’t want to admit they were wrong any of them. # 3. they will cause addiction of some kind bc people cannot continue to suffer and will look for other means. # 4. is so stupid bc intractable pain people all they’re lacking is an ankle bracelet and I myself don’t have anything for the pain. That isn’t the pill counts , urine surprise test, database, MRI, blood work, 90 mme, suicides ENOUGH. I guess it doesn’t make them enough money and that medical cannabis is so expensive but it’s great for Revenue. What do they want a bunch of Alcoholics. When people are using their prescriptions correctly and there’s no way to overdose because of all the restrictions WHY make people suffer. Why not create something to replace opiates instead of taking them away until there is an alternative. They know they can’t create it so they’re just trying to destroy people and they’re doing a damn good job of it.

Ronna watson

I wonder who is taking money from the drug cartels to keep up this patient abuse?

Loyal P Kuhn

I suggest that three fingers on each hand of these politicians be broken. Every 10 minutes, tap all broken fingers with a hammer 24/7 for 5 days minimum. Perhaps then, these assholes will start to understand the meaning of pain and loss of sleep due to that pain.

I live in Ohio and from what I have heard the plan is to eliminate all use of Opioids no matter what a doctor(s) say!!! This means a non medical non professional will decide what medications you can have and if it doesn’t work, too bad for you!!! This is brought to us by Our Governor and the Bureau of Workers Compensation!!! Who also cold turkey patients off long term treatment to save MONEY!!! I believe this is population control and a new method of patient torture!!! Since most of the people who make the decision are NOT practicing physicians and DON’T understand what they are unleashing on people who, for the most part, CANNOT fight back!!! Before all is said and done many more patients will commit suicide to escape the torture!!!
Kolodny started this problem and would become very rich if his SUBOXONE (Heroine) was given as a pain cure!!! Also the Premise is wrong!!! Most, if not all overdoses are from addicts not patients. Those of us who are suffering because of the “ Lets cause a problem and when they figure out after we kill the majority of patients Oops, we goofed!!!
Take down the Pushers, Cartels and addicts!!! If you want to STOP the problem by treating
Addicts so they have hope of ever getting off the backdoor meds(?) they consume and punish Pushers and Cartels things would improve greatly!!!


I do not understand why states are not waiting for the Federal congress to vote on New final recommendations of the Best Pain Practices which does not condemn opioids and unless I read it wrong untreated pain is wrong
There is supposed be vote this summer to hopefully pass it and rectify and clarify the 2016 CDC Guidelines, not mandate. It should be federal not which state one lives in and the less both tv and paper/electronic news still does put enough attention to suffering of chronic pain patients who are incurable with often rare illnesses How is disease caused pain that is severe enough to need opioids rather pain medicine going to not need it if there is no cure for painful illness in first place. Lastly, I understand opiate naive patients for acute pain or post procedure but that should be education to doctors and what does 7 days mean The usual 24-30 if patient takes 1-2 every 4-6 hours that is not going last 7 days it’s math If it is 2 every 4 or 6 doses x2 pills that is 12 in one day so 2.5 days Everyone is different especially if post episode requires rehab to rehab the pain has be controlled why it should be educated doctors and open minded doctors and patients how long stronger pain meds for acute injury; not punitive to doctor and for acute unless things change no pain specialist who books out weeks will work Why all hospitals should have inpatient pain specialists and attached outpatient It is very hard find pain specialist especially if medication is what you need Many pain clinics either deny use opioids or just do steroid injections or other expensive procures.


To Laurie who said in a below post that she’s being forced to fill a Naloxone prescription —

I live in FL and while my doctor called in that Rx to Walgreens, the pharmacist told me that while the doctors are legally obligated to prescribe it, I have no obligation to buy it.
And so I didn’t.
I’m not worried at all about abusing my Rx’s — I write down every pill I take for breakthru pain that’s not on a regular schedule, to make sure I don’t lose track.
And if someone steals them and overdoses, that’s not my problem.


I hate to poop in your post toasties but the writing is on the wall and everyone had better get use to NO OPIOID PAIN MEDICATION!!! You know what a mess government can make once they get their teeth into something and they NEVER admit they made a mistake or did not take into consideration the chronic pain community. How about adding an addendum to the guidelines which reads, any chronic pain patient that has been using legitimate opioid medications prescribed for pain, without incedence for 5 years or more, should be allowed to continue the use of the lawfully prescribed medications as per their pain management doctors. How frickin hard was that!? Enough said. God bless all of my chronic pain brothers and sisters.

Stan Riedel

There is an epidemic of cold hearted stupidity running rampant in most of the elected people’s minds.

Rosalind Rivera

my ultimate opinion? DEATH IS BETTER!

Rebecca Hollingsworth

Here we go again. Chronic pain patients in Pennsylvania are under attack from the powers that be. None of these legislators are educated in chronic pain yet they have undertaken the role of the pill police. They and they alone have decided what is best for people who are suffering with intractable, unrelenting and debilitating conditions. Unfortunately until any of these conditions affect them or someone close to them, the situation will only worsen. Sounds more like a dictatorship then a democracy. How has it come to this in our great UNITED States? The government at any level has no right to interfere in individuals healthcare or decisions made by patients and their caregivers. All of us need to keep a close watch on all levels of governing bodies. The propaganda being perpetuated by critics of any form of opiod therapy is that 3/4’s of addicts were introduced to painkillers by physicians. Honestly, when has any addict been truthful? This fabrication stems from the media being relentless in blaming drug manufacturers, doctors, and proponents of opioids to treat moderate and severe chronic pain as the catalyst for illegal heroin and fentanyl use. We all know the government has never been able to deter the drugs streaming through our unprotected southern border so they fixated on the one thing they could control,legitimate prescriptions written for people suffering through no fault of their own with debilitating conditions. They can point to their charts and graphs and statistics and say “see, here’s proof that our war on opiods is very effective “. Why were these asinine CDC guidelines written and imposed behind closed doors, with no advocates who supported opiod therapies, and had real data and specialists proving its effectiveness? The negative impact these guidelines have had on the chronic pain community is immeasurable. So many pain sufferers have ended their lives rather than live in agony and constant unrelenting pain. How many more must die?

Kate Dylan

I live in PA and talked to the Walmart pharmacist last week regarding the
new outgoing message on their phonelines, which says Walmart is working on
the opioid problem. I asked the pharmacist if they were making treatment referrals or
what. He said they were enforcing state guidelines which include limiting
prescriptions to “opioid naive” patients to 7 days. And not to all patients. I have no concerns re my own daily meds.

Jeffrey Sharp

Don’t these politicians understand that this is not a one sided issue??? That each and every human being has the right to pain relief… Do they even consider that one day, themselves may need opioid pain medications for an illness or a injury. I feel as though I am constantly saying the same things and no one cares enough to listen. “Lord, I humbly ask you to come to these people’s hearts and help them see and understand the negative consequences of their actions and decisions that they are imposing on a suffering community”. “Amen”

The problem with the politicians getting involved in my physical care and Quality of Life that they are taking away!

These politicians have no idea what these restrictions are doing to those of us with chronic pain/PTSD etc. They are killing my Quality of life.


Great! My doc just abandoned me ( thank god!). (Said something about the senate? passing a law, guessing now it’s the state senate) Never could get the Botox in the right place. Now he’s holding my prescription for a ‘SURPRISE’ urine test.
I barely got myself over to the clinic and then the woman over there forgot to get me to sign something. My car is broke so I can’t rush over there to sign it for her.
I give up!
They’re going to make me get a Naloxone prescription along with the same drugs I’ve been taking for 30 years. You know, just to make sure I don’t OD! KA-Ching!
I guess Kolodny got his slice of the American pie….at our expense.
Kudos to the state/big brother

Debbie Nickels Heck, MD

There MUST be a form of PROPER EDUCATION for these legislative bodies to undergo before more states enact laws based on such MISGUIDED THINKING! People across a supposedly EDUCATED NATION are being treated so BARBARICALLY simply due to a lack of PROPER EDUCATION before enacting these laws. WHY aren’t TRUE experts being brought in to testify before them? Or if they are, are those on the PROP side so strikingly convincing, the side of the TRUTH doesn’t have a chance of being beloved? I’m both making a suggestion and asking a question.

Gary Raymond

The CDC has announced the most suicides since WWII. June 21 2019. We need guidelines for suicides.


Typical rhetoric from a politician that dies nothing will do nothing to help the population that are in pain. Regulating opoids out of use is like prohibiting alcohol. During prohibition it didn’t work it just drove underground. More ileagle than it already is.


Not good for cpp. Money is in MJ now, follow the cash.

Alan dean Thurman

3 out of 4 new heron users started heron because they were cut off from their prescription pain killers, NOT (NOT) because they started using prescription pain killers. I know twenty people who have used pain killers for 15 years, and none have never touched heron. This is the ignorance that screws up 50 million Americans lives. Twisting information to push an agenda that is not in the best Interest if anyone. Who ever made the drug policy in pot, should be let go. For 106 years the fda had pit lusted as having no medical benefits (can u see how dumb that is). Now, today people in pain, who have lost their jobs because of the pain has to jump thru procedures, exrays, therapy’s acupuncture, psychiatric appt, all if this to acquire pain meds, that are being g mislabeled as the gateway to heron. Give me a break. Now, hospitals and doctors prescribe new medications or medications that ruin your liver or stomach, which is not making you well, but making you sick. I must say that I’m at my breaking point. I’m not going to take medication that destroys other parts of my body, when I know what works and has no side affects, I’m not going to go to another physical therapy session that makes my body worse?just so we can check off a list (we tried that) I won’t continue to crumple into a pit of destruction because the government wants to save mo eye on the Medicaid bottom line. Which I know a years supply of pain killers would cost around 600, a month of physical therapy 4000, emergency room visit 1200, xrays 300, cats scan 1200, mri 1800. My numbers may be off depending upon your zip code but my point is this. If you want to save money on fraud and if you want to save lives. Legalize opioids. We are responsible for ourselves. Of course, make it 21 to buy pain medication. That’s All I have to say