AfPA Urges Governors to Support Balanced Pain Management with New Opioid Abuse Guidelines

Balanced and comprehensive approach reduces need for opioid-only pain treatment 

WASHINGTON, February 23, 2016 – Today, the Alliance for Patient Access (AfPA) called on members of the National Governors Association (NGA) to support policies that promote patient access to balanced pain management options part of the governors’ forthcoming guidelines on prescription opioid abuse, which were reported by the New York Times on Sunday.

The NGA indicated that its guidelines may cap the number of opioid prescriptions allowed by physicians. Like the funding for opioid abuse treatment proposed in President Barack Obama’s FY2017 budget, the NGA’s outlook thus far overlooks alternatives for patients who require medical treatment for pain.

A number of different medications can help treat pain during and after a surgical procedure: nerve blocks, epidurals, prescription-strength forms of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, IV forms of acetaminophen, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, steroids, and, in some instances, opioids. But in some clinical settings, health care providers have few options. Health insurance reimbursement drives hospitals to manage patients’ pain at the lowest possible cost, which means hospitals’ lists of approved drugs don’t always allow for alternatives to opioid-only treatment.

STATEMENT FROM SUSAN HEPWORTH, ALLIANCE FOR PATIENT ACCESS SPOKESWOMAN:

“To truly address the opioid addiction epidemic, policymakers must focus not only on treating addiction after it’s begun, but also on expanding access to balanced alternatives to opioid-only pain treatment, As an organization of physicians dedicated to patient access, we urge members of the National Governors Association to advocate for policies that increase access to a more balanced pain management approach and decrease the role that insurance plays in determining the course of treatment for patients. Members of the NGA should look at policies that empower physicians to treat pain comprehensively, precisely and on a patient-by-patient basis. That requires health care providers, not insurance policies, to be able to choose the most appropriate, lowest-risk treatments for patients in pain.”

For more information, visit the Institute for Patient Access Policy Blog HERE.

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