2004N-0559 - Joint Meeting of the Arthritis Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee
FDA Comment Number : EC67
Submitter : Ms. Penney Cowan Date & Time: 02/07/2005 06:02:16
Organization : American Chronic Pain Assocation
Consumer Group
Category :
Issue Areas/Comments
Learn to life with it, a statement all too familiar to people with pain. Over our 25 years of service, the American Chronic Pain Association has seen a positive change in the attitudes of people with pain. Their willingness to take an active role in the recovery process to improve the quality of life and reduce one?s sense of suffering has increased ten fold.

Having the appropriate pain management life skills and applying them to daily life, people with pain can become a productive part of society and make the transition from patient to person. However, many people with pain, in spite of their best efforts, still need pain medications. Cox-2 Inhibitors are one of those; others are opioids, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and topical pain relief.

All come with risk and all come with benefits. Medications are part of the daily routine of many people with pain problems, along with exercise, meditation, self-awareness, and other skills that allow them to function at a near normal level. Imagine the frustration and fear when you find out that one of the tools you depended on to live a full life is no longer available. All that these individuals have been working so hard for is threatened.

We talk to people with pain every day?about 100 a week?and receive many letters and emails. Some have stopped taking their medications for fear of a heart attack. Others say that they would rather live ten pain-free years than live twenty years with pain. Many say that they obtain similar medication from Canada because they cannot function without their medication. For these individuals, concern about the risk doesn?t seem to be as great as their fear of the pain itself.

The ACPA is not a medical society or a research facility. We cannot speak to the science behind these medications. But after a quarter century, we can speak for people with pain.

In today?s climate, all too many of them face an up-hill battle just to have their pain validated. They have to fight to see a doctor willing to treat them. They too often lose their jobs and their health care insurance, their homes and their families. Just this week, a study showed that half of all Americans who file for bankruptcy due so because of health problems.

What the pain care consumer wants and needs is to know that they can trust their health care provider and will have the opportunity to share in the medical decisions that will shape their tomorrows. They need to know that the risks of taking any medication are fully disclosed and can be weighed intelligently against their benefits in making a personal treatment decision. They need to retain the right to make that decision for themselves.

People with pain need the NIH to focus on better understanding pain and promoting the development of effective and safe pain management
strategies, including medications. They need the DEA to focus on crime prevention, not on criminalizing medications used responsibly. And they need the FDA to act on its mission to help the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines to improve their health. It is time that the FDA, NIH, pharmaceutical companies, and health care providers work together to focus their attentions on ways to effectively treat long-term pain.

It is our hope that as you consider the testimony presented in these hearings you are not blinded by science. We hope you can look beyond the statistics to see the human face of pain.

Real people will be affected by your decisions here. Each moment that passes, another life is being destroyed by pain; families are pulled apart, children are deprived of a loving environment and our economy is loosing billions of dollars to the direct and indirect costs of pain.

We ask you to imagine just one person who awoke today as every day with intractable pain, unable to function, and ask yourself what is best for that individual. We are counting on you to find a solution