In preparation for the rally on October 22nd one of our leading advocates, Richard Lawhern, has organized our issues into this list of “Talking Points”.
I’m posting it so others can use them as well when communicating about our needs for opioids (advocating). They are all by now familiar gripes we have with the CDC Guidelines.
Below is Richard’s email with his suggested talking points:
You asked for a few main points for use in letters to legislators. Several of the points below will appear in the address that I will give at the Rally Against Pain, on October 22.
- The CDC “Guidelines” on prescription of opioids to adult non-cancer pain patients are throwing tens (possibly hundreds) of thousands of chronic pain patients into agony — and some into suicide.
- Doctors are being driven out of pain management all over the US for fear of DEA malicious prosecution. Pain centers are closing across major areas of US States such as Montana, Texas, Tennessee, Illinois and Florida — and the CDC standards are the cause.
- The Surgeon General has compounded the errors of the CDC by circulating letters to US general practitioners strongly advocating for restrictions on opioid medication to their patients. The Surgeon General has never in his career treated a single chronic pain patient, and has little training in this area of medicine.
- The CDC standards are likewise no longer “guidelines”. They were made mandatory for the US Department of Veterans Affairs last December in an appropriations bill.
- The CDC practice standards are grossly flawed by poor science or in some cases no science. Statistics on prescription opioid deaths were cherry picked or made up out of thin air. Estimated risks of patient toxic response to opioids were grossly over-estimated based on internally contradictory studies.
- Prescription opioids are for the most part safe and effective for patients in whom nothing else works — which means MOST patients whose pain is managed by such means. Risk of opioid addiction or rising drug tolerance is below 10%, and in some studies below 2%. Even when patients become physically dependent on prescription opioids, few of them engage in drug-seeking behavior or doctor shopping.
- CDC writers claim that opioids have unproven effectiveness over the long term. In reality, no research has been done for periods of more than a few months, so researchers don’t actually know one way or another. There are ample reports from peer-to-peer support groups and social media that opioids work well in millions of patients, sometimes at very high doses for years at a time, with only moderate risk of negative side effects.
- The consultants’ working group that prepared the CDC standards failed to include even ONE Board Certified pain management specialist who regularly sees chronic pain patients. But it included several addiction specialists who stood to gain financially from restricting opioids and throwing patients into withdrawal crisis.
- Restriction of prescription opioids to chronic pain patients won’t solve or even affect the number of deaths by street drugs. What such restriction will do is drive many thousands of patients into street drugs in order to maintain even the minimal quality of life that they have from denied prescriptions.
- It is time for the government to STOP THE WAR AGAINST PAIN PATIENTS! Withdraw and re-write the CDC prescription standards to acknowledge the indispensable role which opioids play in managing pain for many among the 100 million-plus chronic pain patients in the US.
I will be organizing this address around, and referring extensively to an article titled “Neat, Plausible, and Generally Wrong: A Response to the CDC Recommendations for Chronic Opioid Use”, by Stephen A. Martin, MD, EdM; Ruth A. Potee, MD, DABAM; and Andrew Lazris, MD.
I posted about this earlier: CDC Guidelines Refuted with Scientific Evidence.
You may want to read it in preparation for your letter writing.
Regards and well wishes,
R.A. “Red” Lawhern, Ph.D.
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