Chronic pain patients fear new opioid bill could cripple care

Chronic pain patients fear new opioid bill could cripple care

BOSTON — A proposed bill is causing panic among those living with chronic pain.

Massachusetts Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren have not taken a position yet on a new bill in the United States Senate that would effectively limit the medical indications for use of long-acting opioids.

It is barely three pages long but packs a potent punch.

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The Federal Drug Administration Opioid Labelling Accuracy Act was filed in the U.S. Senate earlier this month. If passed, advocates say it could have a profound effect on patients living with chronic pain.

Kari Hicks, from Weymouth, had knee surgery six years ago and has been in pain ever since.

"It's just one more layer of the federal government overreach," Hicks told Boston 25 News.

The bill, introduced by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mike Braun of Indiana, would allow labeling for long-acting opioids only for use in cancer and end-of-life care. But it would also be up to a doctor's discretion if opiates are considered the best choice for a given patient suffering from chronic pain.

"It's all lip service," Claudia Merandi suggests.

She is the founder of the organization "Don't Punish Pain Rally" and formerly used opiates for pain and other symptoms of Crohn's Disease.

She says the net effect of the Manchin/Braun bill if passed, will be to virtually end access to opioids for patients with chronic pain.

"No doctor in their right frame of mind will prescribe," she said. "They see their colleagues being shipped off to prison and they're not willing to take the chance."

Hicks says her doctor tapered her off opioids last February, fearful of federal intervention in his practice.

She says she has been living with pain ever since.

"Every day at the end of the day I'm just done," she said. "I just don't want anybody around me. I'm grumpy. I want to be part of everything but the pain is just bigger."