CHICAGO — The AMA strongly backs the comprehensive, common-sense proposals the Interagency Pain Task Force discussed today, sending a clear signal to the physician community that policy makers understand the treatment required for patients in pain.

The recommendations, to be adopted later today, balance the need to effectively manage patients’ pain while also advancing policies to end the epidemic of opioid-related deaths.

“These recommendations are a lifeline to pain patients who have been caught in the middle of policy efforts that have produced harmful unintended consequences,” said AMA President-Elect Patrice A. Harris, M.D., chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force. “This is a road map to help physicians and policy makers take sustainable steps to end the epidemic and improve pain care.”

Among the task force recommendations:

  • bolstering support for multidisciplinary, multimodal approaches to treating patients with acute and chronic pain;
  • reversing harmful policies such as arbitrary limits on prescribed pain medications;
  • providing individualized treatment that accounts for co-morbidities and severity, not one-size-fits-all approaches—a point emphasized recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
  • encouraging better health insurance coverage of affordable, evidence-based non-opioid medications and non-pharmacologic treatments for pain and eliminating obstacles to treatment such as fail-first policies; 
  • recognizing the urgent need to address stigma as a barrier to care.

“Having developed such excellent recommendations, it is important that this report to Congress not just be filed away,” Dr. Harris said. “Not only will the AMA circulate the report, we will work diligently to see the recommendations adopted in policy and practice. Our patients are counting on it.”

Editor’s note: Dr. Harris will be participating in a roundtable Friday morning as part of the task force’s discussion about next steps for the report and recommendations. Dr. Harris chairs the AMA Opioid Task Force, which is comprised of more than 25 national, state, specialty and other health care associations. It was created in 2014 to coordinate efforts within organized medicine to help end the opioid epidemic. Additional information on the AMA Opioid Task Force is available here. Real-time updates on the AMA’s work on opioids is accessible here.

 

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