On Tuesday, September 15, Axios co-founder Mike Allen and health care reporter Caitlin Owens hosted a conversation on the state of medicine and chronic pain, exploring how policymakers and professionals are approaching responsible long-term pain management, featuring Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Arthritis Foundation President & CEO Ann Palmer and Director of the Office of Pain Policy at the National Institutes of Health Dr. Linda Porter.
Rep. Burgess discussed the difference between Congress addressing the opioid crisis in 2017 and its failure to reach an agreement on the COVID stimulus.
- On the opioid crisis response in 2017: "[That was] the way Congress is supposed to work. This was the legislative process being built from the ground up rather than top down."
- How COVID-19 has exacerbating existing problems around resources in health care: "The downstream effects [are] disrupted cash flow for hospitals, medical practices, clinics. All of that has sort of compounded the chronic problems of lack of adequate resources."
Dr. Porter highlighted the effect of the pandemic on patients who experience chronic pain and discussed the recent spike in opioid overdoses:
- On chronic pain during the pandemic: "If [patients] stop or slow treatments, their pain can get worse. Pain can be exacerbated by depression, which I think, given the isolation has been a big factor for people during COVID."
- On patients struggling with opioid use disorders: "The rate of [opioid] overdose has vastly increased since COVID started...It's harder for [patients] because there may be a loss of jobs, a loss of income. And so all these things begin to contribute even more so to their opioid use disorder."
Ann Palmer unpacked the many ways that chronic pain impacts everyday life for patients.
- "Pain prevents people from participating in life, may lead to a more sedentary lifestyle and the comorbidities associated with that, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure. It certainly leads to sleeplessness, and thus fatigue.
Thank you Pfizer & Lilly for sponsoring this event.