Tonight the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of Senate Bill 483, Ensuring Patient Access & Drug Enforcement Act of 2016.  The Senate passed the bill on March 17, 2016.    Sponsor Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the bill  on February 12, 2014, and continued to championed it through the Senate Judiciary Committee.  A big THANK YOU for the many letters and personal contacts that were made to U.S. Senators and Representatives in response to the call to action by the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association in February 2016.

The bill is of particular interest to patients with chronic pain and DEA registrants authorized to distribute or prescribe controlled substances (particularly Schedule II) because it:

#1  Requires an order to show cause as to why such a registration should not be denied, revoked, or suspended to:

  • (1) contain a statement of the basis for the denial, revocation, or suspension, including specific citations to any laws or regulations alleged to be violated;
  • (2) direct the applicant or registrant to appear before the Attorney General at a specific place and time within 30 days after receipt of the order; and
  • (3) notify the applicant or registrant of the opportunity to submit a corrective action plan on or before such appearance. Requires the Attorney General, upon review of any such plan, to determine whether denial, revocation, or suspension proceedings should be discontinued or deferred for purposes of modifications to such plan.
  • Makes such requirements inapplicable to the issuance of an immediate suspension order.

#2  Directs the Department of Health and Human Services, acting through the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to submit a report identifying:

  • (1) obstacles to legitimate patient access to controlled substances;
  • (2) issues with diversion of controlled substances; and
  • (3) how collaboration between federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and the pharmaceutical industry can benefit patients and prevent diversion and abuse of controlled substances.

The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association is very appreciative to Senator Hatch and his Legislative Assistants, Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the House of Representatives for supporting this important legislation.  We strongly urge President Obama to sign the bills into law immediately.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – On February 22, President Barack Obama formally recognized pain patients’ experiences and opposed legislation imposing limits on opioid prescribing.  “Pain is real,” Obama said, in declining to endorse a sweeping proposal by some governors to put limits on the number of opioid painkillers that doctors can prescribe, saying such a policy would be unfair to rural Americans who don't have easy access to pain medication or addiction treatment programs.  "If we go to the doctors right now and say 'Don't overprescribe' without providing some mechanisms for people in these communities to deal with the pain that they have or the issues that they have, then we're not going to solve the problem," Obama said.  "Because the pain is real. The mental illness is real.  In some cases, addiction is already out there.  In some cases these are underserved communities when it comes to the number of doctors and nurses and practitioners."

“One hundred million American adults live with the disease of chronic pain, and many of them rely on a combination of therapies to function,” said Jan Chambers, president of the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA). “That combination treatment often includes strong pain medications.”

“Rather than viewing pain as simply a symptom of trauma, infection, inflammation, or surgery, we now see it as a discrete disease entity - one that fundamentally alters the entire nervous system,” report  Stanford University researchers.  To increase scientific research funding for multidisciplinary treatments for pain and to raise awareness of the challenges people with chronic pain face, the NFMCPA is sponsoring Together Walks in May across the United States. These local events celebrate May 12 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day to recognize what patients have overcome, to remember those lost to the illness, and to honor people who have fought or are fighting fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

"If we go to the doctors right now and say 'Don't overprescribe' without providing some mechanisms for people in these communities to deal with the pain that they have or the issues that they have, then we're not going to solve the problem,” said Obama.

Together Walks are a step toward a solution for chronic pain. The events unite communities to make a difference, raise awareness, advocate for better access to care, and encourage and fund research that leads to better treatments. An estimated 10 million Americans, 2 to 4 percent of population, have FM – a common illness involving long-term, body-wide pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, memory problems and impaired functionality – as a primary diagnosis.

NFMCPA calls upon individuals living with chronic pain and their friends, family and caregivers to participate.  The organization invites everyone to attend the Virtual Together Walk or to participate live in Richmond, Virginia; Kissimmee and Coral Springs, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Portland, Washington; and Louisville, Kentucky.  For more information, please visit togetherwalks.org or register at crowdrise.com/togetherwalks.

About the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA)

NFMCPA, a not-for-profit organization, supports individuals living with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain illnesses by raising awareness through community outreach, education, advocacy and networking.

Learn more: http://togetherwalks.org/, www.facebook.com/nfmcpa, www.twitter.com/togetherwalks.

dreamstime xs 52020645Your urgent attention is needed on an amendment up for vote today by our U.S. Senators. The Amendment 3435 to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act will direct the National Institutes of Health to intensify its research efforts on chronic pain and develop safe and effective treatments for chronic pain. This is critically important and your action can help to ensure that this important directive gets included in this bill!

Please take 2 minutes to Contact Senator Minority Leader Harry Reid today by 4 pm ET.

There are 3 ways that you can contact Senator Harry Reid to make your voice heard:

1. Phone:

  • Call 202-224-3542
  • Say: I’m calling in regards to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. I urge Senator Reid to drop his objection to the Schatz Amendment 3435. It is a bipartisan, non-controversial amendment that is critical to achieving a long-term solution to our nation’s chronic pain and opioid addiction crises.

2. Email

  • Visit: http://www.reid.senate.gov/contact
  • Enter your contact information.
  • In the ‘subject’ dropdown menu, choose ‘health.’
  • Cut/paste the following text into the ‘Message’ box: Dear Senator Reid, Please drop your objection to the Schatz Amendment 3435 to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. It is a bipartisan, non-controversial amendment that is critically important in achieving a long-term solution to our nation’s chronic pain and opioid addiction crises. Doing so will save lives!

3. Twitter

  • Cut/paste the following: @SenatorReid Please drop your objection to the bipartisan, non-controversial Schatz Amendment 3435 to CARA today – doing so will save lives!

Thank you for joining with us to help improve the lives of people with pain!

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids 2016 were published on March 15 and restrict access to opioid medications at the expense of the lives and increased suffering of people with chronic pain.

An estimated 10 million Americans, 2 to 4 percent of population, have FM – a common illness involving long-term, body-wide pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, memory problems and impaired functionality – as a primary diagnosis. Accessible, effective treatments do not exist for the majority of people with fibromyalgia or chronic pain.

To increase scientific research funding for multidisciplinary treatments for pain and to raise awareness of the challenges people with chronic pain face, the NFMCPA is sponsoring Together Walks in May across the United States. The organization has partnered with experienced Leaders Against Pain to organize, promote and carry out the details of each Together Walk. The mission of the walks is to increase FM awareness, education, resources, and support for research in the general public, medical communities, legislators, and people affected by FM.

“One hundred million American adults live with the disease of chronic pain, and many of them rely on a combination of therapies to function,” said Jan Chambers, president of the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA). “That combination treatment often includes strong pain medications.”  

How do you answer a 13-year old’s questions about his hopes for the future after being diagnosed with FM?  What happens in the homes of parents with FM who cannot participate in taking care of their family?  When will better treatments and a cure for this disabling disorder be found?

Government funding for research into chronic pain treatments is limited and diminishing in the face of new legislation, like the release of the CDC Opioid Guidelines. Together Walks are a step toward finding new treatments for chronic pain. The events unite communities to raise FM awareness, advocate for better access to care, and encourage and fund research that leads to better treatments.

These local events celebrate May 12 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day to recognize what patients have overcome, to remember those lost to the illness, and to honor people who have fought or are fighting fibromyalgia and chronic pain. Every voice matters in changing how fibromyalgia is perceived, treated, and researched.

The NFMCPA calls upon individuals living with chronic pain and their friends, family and caregivers to participate.  The organization invites everyone to attend the Virtual Together Walk or to participate live in Richmond, Virginia; Nashville, Tennessee; Portland, Oregon; Kissimmee or Coral Springs, Florida; and Louisville, Kentucky. If you are unable to walk, you can still participate by creating a fundraising team at crowdrise.com/togetherwalks.  The NFMCPA appreciates your continued support. For more information or to register now, please visit togetherwalks.org.

FDA recommended stricter controls on hydrocodone medications on October 24th.  It is expected the DEA will concur.  Many people know them by name (Vicodin, Vicodin ES, Anexsia, Lortab, Lorcet, Lorcet Plus, Norco, Zydone).  In a move by the FDA that many people hoped would not happen, people with chronic pain have woman with back painbeen dealt a strong blow.  In January 2013, an advisory panel of experts to the Food and Drug Administration FDA Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee article voted to toughen the restrictions on painkillers like Vicodin that contain hydrocodone, the most widely prescribed drugs in the country.  Significant increase in pain research to discover better and more appropriate treatments would balance the unfair burden this decision makes on people with chronic pain conditions.  Congress, NIH, and the FDA cannot turn their backs on 100+ million people with chronic pain conditions.  Increased effort to address addiction and abuse of medications containing opioids is needed as well as significantly more research to find appropriate and effective chronic pain treatments.

Rescheduling hydrocodones from Schedule III to Schedule II will have sweeping consequences for doctors, pharmacists and patients. Refills without a new prescription would be forbidden, as would faxed prescriptions and those called in by phone. Only written prescriptions from a doctor would be allowed. Distributors would be required to store the drugs in special vaults.

In preparation for this possible change, the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association created the "National Pain Medication Survey" on Survey Monkey and sent out notices to more than 100,000 people with FM and/or chronic pain. Almost 6,000 people clicked onto the survey and more than 800 people completed it, meaning almost 13% of people had a pharmacist refuse to fill their prescription for an opioid medication.  If a participant was not taking opioid medications at the time of the survey, they could only fill out a portion of the questionnaire. Currently, a draft of the survey analysis is being completed with the intention to publish the  final results.  Statistics revealed that a stunning number of people have contemplated suicide without access to pain medication for pain relief.  The NFMCPA will notify their constituents when the completed analysis is published.  

If you were one of the many people who took the time to take this survey, the NFMCPA thanks you. The published results will help medical professionals, the FDA, and the DEA better understand the extent of problems surrounding denial of adequate pain relief for people who are suffering.  

To read the complete notice on the recommendation to reschedule hydrocodones on the Federal Register, click here.  

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