GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – The majority of people who suffer from chronic pain feel they are treated like drug addicts during their pharmacy visits, and nearly one-third of pain sufferers showed concern they are being embarrassed by their healthcare provider.
The National Pain Foundation, a Golden, Colo.-based non-profit that aims to “transform the way pain is fundamentally understood, assessed and treated,” conducted a survey of over 300 people afflicted with chronic pain to assess treatment they receive from healthcare providers.
More than half (52 percent) stated that they “are concerned that they will be treated like a drug addict by their pharmacist”. And an additional 29 percent said that they “are concerned that they will be embarrassed by their pharmacist”.
The survey found that nearly 1 in 5 (17 percent) reported they were “treated poorly or very poorly” by their pharmacist, and many respondents said they had been degraded, humiliated and even been accused of being a drug addict taking “enough meds to kill an elephant,” one comment alleged.
“This comes as no surprise given the plethora of media attention on prescription pain medicine abuse, addiction and death,” The National Pain Foundation Chair, Daniel Bennett, MD., said in a statement. “The problem is that the vast majority of people who use pain medicine need those medicines, and they should not be treated any differently than someone fulfilling a prescription for an antibiotic or an antidepressant,” Dr. Bennett added.
The survey comes as many chronic pain sufferers and healthcare providers alike are criticizing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for allegedly targeting doctors for the prescriptions they write. Some accuse the DEA of instilling fear in patients seeking prescription medicine by labeling their actions as “doctor shopping” or “Malingering.”
Many health care experts cite national painkiller overdoses – which killed 15,000 people in the US in 2008 – along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that shows prescription drug abuse kills more people each year in the US than cocaine and heroin combined.
Many states have begun using “PMP,” or Prescription Monitoring Program reports to see if some patients are picking up prescriptions with other doctors, or “doctor shopping.”
As of 2012, forty-three states use databases to track prescriptions of powerful pain relievers including oxycodone, Vicodin and Opana.
According to the NPF, chronic pain affects 1.5 billion people worldwide and the Institutes of Medicine reports that 100 million American adults suffer from chronic pain, costing $635 billion in lost productivity and medical treatment.