PALM SPRINGS, CA—“This is our time … our nexus, our real crossroads,” said Perry G. Fine, MD, President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) in opening the 28th Annual Meeting. Now, more than ever, those living with the burden of pain need empathic physicians to “eliminate unnecessary pain as much and as often as possible” and restore “essential human dignity.”
Chronic pain affects at least 116 million American adults — more than that affected by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Costs of medical treatment of pain and lost productivity are estimated at up to $635 billion annually.
“With definitive research, evidence, and regulation supporting better pain management, and the release of the IOM’s seminal report: Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research, the time is now to learn how to bring these elements together to start eradicating one of the most ignored medical conditions in our lifetime,” said Dr. Fine, of the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT.
However, more work needs to be done, both in basic science and at the bedside. Recently, combined efforts of the AAPM leadership, the new IOM report, and new mandates related to Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS), provide clinical plans for treating pain, alleviating suffering, and eradicating abuse.
“Our goal in designing the conference was to bring state-of-the-art information about pain together at one conference to provide a path forward for the research, medical, and regulatory community to better treat and manage pain,” said Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, AAPM’s Vice President for Scientific Affairs. “This translates to a meeting that goes beyond lectures and provides evidence-based knowledge to support conclusions” as well as helps physicians “manage their day-to-day practices in ways that support safe opioid prescribing and reduce misuse,” added Dr. Mackey, of Stanford University.
Sessions are focused on helping practicing clinicians apply or translate several decades of high-level science and clinical research on pain to everyday practice. Clinicians also have the opportunity to learn how current government policies and healthcare reform will affect the practice of pain medicine both now and in the future — and how they can manage their everyday treatment of patients in light of these changes.