Lawmakers should not diminish access to pain care

April 06, 2011

In response to "Maryland seeks to tackle prescription drug problem" (April 2), the American Pain Foundation (APF), the nation's leading advocacy group for people affected by pain, located in Baltimore, would like to remind legislators that in addition to helping curb abuse and misuse of prescription pain medication in this state, they must be careful not to diminish access to pain care. Pain is a serious and costly public health issue, and if untreated, it can be devastating. Unmanaged pain impacts all areas of one's life including ability to perform everyday tasks, sleep and work. It affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Approximately 76.5 million Americans, or a quarter of the population, including almost 1.5 million Marylanders, report issues with pain.

When pain is treated, most people can resume daily activities and become productive citizens. For many, opioid pain medication is an integral part of a comprehensive pain management plan to help relieve pain, restore functioning and improve quality of life and is not misused, abused or diverted.

If prescription monitoring programs are encouraged through our legislation, the policy must be specific about the elements of a balanced approach, addressing both the need to curb abuse and protecting access to care. Legislators must oppose strategies that negatively affect those with pain who require prescription pain medication. APF has outlined key elements essential to promoting this balanced approach in a position statement. These elements can be found in our newsroom on our website at

Will Rowe, Baltimore

The writer is CEO of the American Pain Foundation.

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