The National Pain Strategy – A Recipe for Parity?

The National Pain Strategy - A Recipe for Parity?

The public comment period for the National Pain Strategy expires today (May 20th).

NIH deadline

Public comment period for the National Pain Strategy expires May 20th, 2015

“I think it’s a great step forward for researchers in the pain field and most importantly for patients with chronic pain,” said Dr. Seth Lederman, President and Chairman of Tonix Pharmaceuticals which is developing medicines for common disorders of the central nervous system including fibromyalgia.

“It addresses a huge need in our medical system and in the pain research structure,” he added. “Pain crosses across many disciplines and it’s important to have centralized group of people and resources focusing on it.”

Dr. Lederman trained in internal medicine and rheumatology at Columbia’s Presbyterian Hospital. He was an NIH Physician-Scientist and he thinks the NPS is overdue.

“There’s a critical need for centralizing research on pain because frankly the way it was working before pain was falling through the cracks, particularly chronic pain,” he told the National Pain Report.

There has been some criticism that the NPS didn’t include the patient perspective. Here are links to two recent columns we recently published (David Becker wrote it doesn’t go far enough—Dr. Terri Lewis thinks the model that we use to treat pain patients is fractured.)

Dr. Lederman found the criticism interesting, but pointed out the patient input has never been more valued in pain policy.

“There’s been a tectonic change at the FDA to include patients in the dialogue,” he said. “There were patient representatives on the committee and it’s important that patient input is considered.”

One of the architects of the National Pain Strategy is Dr. Sean Mackey of Stanford. In an interesting interview with another well-known leader in pain medicine, Dr. Lynn Webster, he talked about what happens when the NPS is finalized and released.

“That’s when we all need to mobilize. We need to come together.  One of the things that I am working on is to mobilize professional and medical associations and patient advocacy groups and work together to define some clear sound bites, some clear messaging that we can all get behind in this NPS,”Dr. Mackey said. “We need to speak with a single common voice about pushing these goals forward.”

(To hear or read the interview, click here)

Dr. Mackey added that pressuring elected officials will be important.

“Reach out to your congressman or congresswoman and let them know how important this is, because it is going to take Congress, it is going to take legislators at the local, state and national levels to support this effort. And then it is going to go beyond that because we are going to have stakeholders across all branches of government and it is going to need also to engage patient advocacy groups, the professional medical associations, the education groups.  So this is going to take a concerted effort; it is not going to be easy, but this is where we need each and every person listening here to lend a hand.”

For Tonix’s Dr. Lederman, the NPS provides something overdue for chronic pain treatment that will benefit both the research and, importantly the patient.

“In every one of the disciplines (specialties) they want to push chronic pain patients somewhere else,” he said. “We need parity for pain treatment and the NPS will help move toward that.”






Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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I can’t think of a more self serving statement then Dr. Mackey’s asking Americans to come together to support the NPS- a plan that is clearly by and for special interest groups and purposely excluded Americans who are have no organization affiliation. No doubt the AAPM- which Dr, Mackey works for will profit greatly from the NPS-much more then will Americans in pain. I think Dr. Mackey and the creators of the NPS should clearly indicate how they and their organizations will benefit and profit from the NPS. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.
Of the 140 million Americans in pain- far less then 1% are part of interest groups. Perhaps instead of Americans getting with Dr. Mackey- he needs to get with them.
But let me be fair- let me give Dr Mackey and those that developed the NPS an opportunity that they didnt provide te average American- let us debate the issue openly in public- I for one believe debate on public issues should be uninihibted, wide open and robust. I don’t believe the NPS was created with any intelligence regarding implementation, it ignores the 30 million Americans with multimorbidity and pain, it lack specific measurable outcomes, it wasnt given a price tag. Dr Mackey would like Americans to buy a pig in a poke- like a box of chocolates- we dont know what were getting from the NPS.
Dr Lederman- like many in the medical profession should know- inquiry is not obligated to the words of authority. The simple fact is Americans and especially people in pain have been shut out of creating the NPS and are grossly underrepresnted in the CD, FDA, IPRCC, HHS, VA,etc. Dr. Lederman should know the greatest complaint today about medicine is that people dont feel respected or listened to by health care professionals- and so the NPS is condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past because doctors still don’t understand the importance of “hearing”, in the sense Hannah Arendt meant it-their clients-whom they wish to performatively call “patients”-further proof of their lack of regard for people who seek their help.
Like I said before, the NPS is one rough beast that shouldn’t be born.