Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE Spring 2015, Issue 11 - Page 4

From the heart and desk of the Editor Your Input is Needed n a recent Washington Post article about increased problems for veterans to get chronic pain care, the VA said that one-half million (500,000) veterans are managing their pain with opioid medications. Added to the 100 million American adults suffering with chronic pain reported in the 2011 Institute of Medicine Report Relieving Pain in America, that’s a staggering number--600,000, or one-third of the U.S. population--with a life-altering chronic pain condition. The IOM Report did not include military, children, incarcerated or those living in long-term care facilities. T wo sides of the coin of prescription opioid medications are: 1) maintaining access for judicious use for pain relief needed by millions of patients; and 2) reducing prescription drug abuse, including addiction and overdose deaths, of thousands of people. On October 6, 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) moved hydrocodone drugs (synthetic opioids) from Schedule III to the more tightly restricted Schedule II. The effect of those restrictions include: 30-day prescriptions filled from only hand-written scripts received during a monthly clinical visit with the prescribing physician, a patient contract listing a single pharmacy for filling the prescription, and submission to random urine drug tests. A national shortage of opioid medications exists. If the pharmacy named in the contract cannot fill the patient’s prescription due to shortage, it is now illegal for that patient to ask another pharmacy to fill their prescription, and the patient (or their representative) must personally return to ask if the script can be filled. Pharmacies won’t give that information on the phone. Meanwhile, patients are losing control of their pain, which affects every aspect of their lives. Over time, unmanaged chronic pain results in lost productivity, reduced quality of life, and additional health problems. T he complex problem of the coin cannot be solved easily. The DEA states that their only interest is restricting access to the medications to reduce abuse. No federal agency is protecting the patients’ rights to pain relief. In meetings, I’m asked to provide data to back up my statements that millions of chronic pain patients are seriously suffering from unintended consequences from the hydrocodone rescheduling and few reasonable covered alternatives are provided for pain control. Without that scientific data, the federal and state agencies dismiss the advocates by saying we have only anecdotal stories. Hospital emergency rooms and coroners are legally required to report when opioid medications are detected in their work. But no agency or institution is required to report the suffering reported by chronic pain patients. F or pain patient advocates to positively influence policy to improve access to pain care overall, it is crucial that the personal suffering and experiences be quantified. When there is legislation needing patient support, we hope that you will contact your legislators and let them know of your concerns. A research survey is available now to quantify the reschedule impact to patients. Your voice matters. Please, help us help you. Take the survey on page 2 and then tell everyone you know who may have used hydrocodone medications within the past year why it’s important for them to fill out the survey, also. Thank you, Follow us on Facebook to connect with more than 112,000 people in the FM and chronic pain community. 4  Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Life Sp r i n g 2 0 1 5 Jan Chambers, NFMCPA President and Editor-in-Chief Connect with Your Community I