Two competing public health crises: the undertreatment of pain AND the increase in opioid related deaths

We as hospice and palliative medicine professionals have been largely focused on the former public health crisis in our training and practice as well as research endeavors to improve pain assessment and management. The FDA has expanded authority given in 2007 to focus attention on the public saftey issues related to the significant increase in opioid related deaths. BOTH issues SHOULD be of concern to hospice and pallaitive medicine professionals. Our efforts this past year have been focused on both informing our members about the public safety concerns, while at the same time increasing the communication and collaboration with various federal agencies – particularly the FDA – regarding access, availability, and supply of a) pain management professionals, b) pain medications, and c) pharmacies that can dispense pain preseciptions. The Academy and its members must take an active role in the coming months to ensure vigorous dialog on this topic within the Academy, across other stakeholder groups, and to federal agencies. I look forward to working to facilitate this dialog in the coming weeks and months.

-Cameron Muir, MD

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