As House Bill 471 begins to make its way through the legislative process, Dr. Mel Pohl, Director of our Chronic Pain Treatment Program, is keeping close watch. The bill, proposed by a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania, tackles the sensitive, and at times controversial, issues of access to pain medications vs. the all too real potential of the abuse of prescription painkillers. HB 471 suggests that current restrictions may preclude individuals who suffer from chronic pain from obtaining so-called “essential” medications. It proposes cooperation and increased communication between lawmakers at all levels, as well as pharmaceutical companies, in seeking a workable solution. While Dr. Pohl agrees with the bill’s general proposition of ongoing study, he questions the “essential” need for medication, in particular.
Alternatives to Treating Chronic Pain Lower Chances Of Drug Abuse
As an internationally recognized leader in our abstinence-based program for treating chronic pain, Dr. Pohl urges that all the key players pay serious attention to statistical evidence of increased abuse of prescription painkillers and strongly consider alternative treatments. In a statement responding directly to the bill’s call for patient access to medication, Dr. Pohl said, “I am definitely in favor of studying the issues and agree that they are complex, but this bill appears to be somewhat misguided in its attempt to differentiate ‘legitimate patient access’ to what it is calling “essential” medications. There is so little evidence that long-term opioids for chronic pain are effective. Safeguarding access to these powerful medications may not serve the overall well-being of the patient. Using opioids for chronic pain is often part of a futile effort to help patients, and instead, it backfires and causes worsening of function and increased levels of pain. This information about opioids must be readily provided without the suggestion that medication is a panacea for a chronically sad life.” The bill has several steps to complete before it reaches the point of actual new legislation, but the importance of the topic makes vigilance essential. Add your thoughts and comments below and follow us on Facebook!