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U.S. Senate HELP Committee Hearing On February 14, 2012 Examines Ways to Tackle The Chronic Pain Epidemic
By Natacha T. Pires, M.B.B.S.

Watch the HELP Committee
hearing on pain

Read the IOM report on pain 

On February 14, 2012, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee—chaired by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)—held its first Congressional hearing, titled “Pain in America: Exploring Challenges to Relief,” to review the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) 2011 report on pain detailing the status of pain care management and research in the U.S.

The Neuropathy Association issued an advocacy alert to its constituents about this first-ever HELP Committee hearing on pain care, encouraging constituents whose Senators serve on the HELP Committee to write to urge their Senators to attend this hearing. Our thanks to all of you who responded by submitting letters as well as those of you who took the time to watch the live broadcast of the hearing. 

Working together with the broader pain care community, The Neuropathy Association has been supportive of Congressionally-mandated hearing to help inform policymakers about the state of pain care in the U.S., using the landmark IOM report on pain as the basis for framing this public health crisis. This Congressional hearing is the first step in the right direction to help millions suffering with pain, particularly those in the neuropathy community dealing with chronic neuropathic pain. In advance of the Congressional hearing, another step forward was the National Institutes of Health’s announcement regarding Members of the federally-mandated Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, among them Neuropathy Association president and CEO Tina Tockarshewsky. 

The Congressional hearing on Feb. 14, 2012 focused on the IOM report on pain that assessed the current state of the science of pain research, care, and education, and made numerous recommendations that the authors believe would advance the field of pain medicine. Lead witnesses discussing the IOM report’s findings at the hearing included Dr. Larry Taback (principal deputy director of the National Institutes of Health), Dr. Phil Pizzo (co-chair of the IOM’s Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care, and Education), John E. Sarno, M. D. (professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine), William Maixner D.D.S., Ph.D. (director, Center for Neurosensory Disorders, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and Christine Veasley (executive director of the National Vulvodynia Association).

The Neuropathy Association commends the IOM Committee members’ critical work aimed at helping people with pain as well as the health care professionals caring for them. The Association anticipates the population of neuropathic pain patients will increase exponentially in the near future due to the increase of diabetes and its directly correlating peripheral nerve damage, the co-morbidities of neuropathy and neuropathic pain with HIV, cancer, post-herpetic neuralgia, Lyme, and other chronic illnesses that are fortunately having increased life-expectancy but unfortunately leaving lasting neuropathic pain in their wake. 

The Neuropathy Association applauds HELP Committee chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and ranking member Mike Enzi (R-WY) for convening this hearing. The Association looks forward to working collaboratively with policymakers, other patient organizations, and medical professional societies to overcome the barriers to better pain care and help the millions in the neuropathy community—and millions more in the U.S.—who are living and suffering with pain.

 

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