AAFP Weighs In on NIH's Draft National Pain Strategy

Academy Strongly Supports More Physician Education on Pain Treatment

May 22, 2015 05:17 pm News Staff

In response to NIH's solicitation of comments(www.federalregister.gov) on a draft National Pain Strategy document developed by the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, the AAFP sent a letter this week offering its feedback.

[Older adult in pain with physician]

The National Pain Strategy(iprcc.nih.gov) is a comprehensive, population health-oriented plan based on a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that offered recommendations "to increase the recognition of pain as a significant public health problem in the United States."

In the May 20 letter(2 page PDF) to Linda Porter, Ph.D., program director for systems and cognitive neuroscience at NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and a co-author of the draft document, the Academy expressed its support for the draft National Pain Strategy and its strong agreement that additional education and training is needed to help physicians better treat their patients' pain.

"The AAFP agrees that provider education and instruction in the use of multimodal pain management strategies, to include safe prescribing practices for opioid analgesics as one component of a comprehensive pain management plan, is needed and urges medical schools and family medicine residency programs to integrate into curricula and provide during training (this information)," said the letter, which was signed by AAFP Board Chair Reid Blackwelder, M.D., of Kingsport, Tenn.

Story highlights
  • In response to NIH's request for comments on a draft National Pain Strategy document developed by the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, the AAFP sent a letter this week offering its feedback.
  • In its May 20 letter, the Academy expressed support for the draft document and the need for additional education and training to help physicians better treat their patients' pain.
  • The letter also explained that the AAFP continues to oppose any action that limits patients' access to physician-prescribed pharmaceuticals and reiterated the Academy's opposition to mandating CME as a condition for prescribing any medication.

In 2008, the Academy joined the Association of Departments of Family Medicine, the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine in developing recommended curriculum guidelines(10 page PDF) to teach family medicine residents how to care for patients with chronic pain. Those guidelines were revised in 2011.

The letter also explained that the AAFP, along with other major professional physician organizations, continues to oppose any action that limits patients' access to physician-prescribed pharmaceuticals.

"The AAFP is committed to maintaining family physicians' rights to treat their patients efficiently and effectively," the letter said.

Furthermore, stated the letter, the Academy is adamantly opposed to mandating CME as a condition for prescribing any type of medication.

The AAFP continues to work with the FDA and other government agencies to support education and physician self-regulation regarding the FDA's risk evaluation mitigation strategy process, said the letter. "By collaborating with stakeholders and interprofessional groups to address the pain epidemic, the AAFP remains an active partner in processes surrounding physician self-regulation."

The letter concluded by saying the AAFP plans to continue to collaborate with key organizations and government entities to improve the management of pain, as well as to combat drug addiction and opioid abuse.

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