SAN DIEGO—During a session at the ACR/ARHP 2017 Annual Meeting Nov. 3–8, three representatives from the federal government described several of the government’s varied national strategies and agencies that are tackling pain. All of these strategies are affected by the current national epidemic of opioid overdoses and the need for safer analgesic prescribing. But the government representatives also addressed the need for balancing the risks of analgesic prescribing with patients’ need to have their physicians manage their pain.
Explore this issueFebruary 2018
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Asked whether the government viewed the issue primarily as an opioid problem or a pain problem, Linda Porter, PhD, director of the Office of Pain Policy in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Md., responded, “We’ve tried to highlight this as a dual problem. You should see that pain management and treatment clearly are part of the government’s plan for the opioid crisis,” she said, although the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths must be urgently addressed.
“We recognize the cost of pain at the individual level and the societal level,” Dr. Porter said. “We have an opioid problem, and we have a pain problem, and we believe there’s a need to develop new pain therapies.” There are also pain modalities that could help but aren’t in use or covered, and we need more professional education to help medical trainees better understand chronic pain as well.