Cutting Edge Science Meeting to End Opioid Crisis - Understanding the Neurobiological Mechanisms of Pain
Partnering to Improve Chronic Pain Care
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) held three meetings this summer with the goal of developing the first public-private partnership (PPP) to develop safe and effective treatments for chronic pain, as well as new treatments for opioid addiction and overdose. The proposed partnership would be a joint effort of the NIH, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. Christin Veasley, Director of the Chronic Pain Research Alliance, an initiative of TMJA, was invited to participate in the third meeting focused on the neurobiology of pain. The meeting was hosted by NIH Director, Dr. Frances Collins and the NIH principal Deputy Director, Dr. Lawrence Tabak. Other attendees included several NIH Institute Directors, clinical and basic scientists in pain research and representatives of pharmaceutical and device companies.
Christin was asked to address chronic pain research from her perspective as a chronic pain patient and patient advocate. She noted that pain receives limited research investment, is frequently dismissed by health care professionals, and is not regarded as a major public health problem, despite being the most prevalent, costly and disabling condition in the U.S. Further, the admission of pain remains a source of stigma for patients and is regarded by society as a sign of weakness.
Christin highlighted issues with the current treatment system, namely the shortage of pain specialists, the dearth of education and training in pain management for primary care physicians and the lack of quality evidence of various therapies. This leads to trial-and-error-based clinical decision making. To improve the care of pain patients, better measures of pain are needed, she stated, along with preclinical models and clinical trials that account for the complexity and individuality of responses to the chronic pain experience. These measures should include an assessment of comorbidities, such as sleep and mood disorders, the loss of functional abilities and health-related quality of life. She emphasized that a precision medicine approach to clarify how genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle interact in an individual pain patient's experience can lead to tailored treatments that can more effectively manage pain. Christin concluded that pain research will greatly benefit from the participation of stakeholders from across the research and clinical translation spectrum, including patients, clinicians and payers. (Click to view the PowerPoint presentation)
The meeting summary, along with those of the earlier two meetings, can be viewed on the NIH's website: https://www.nih.gov/opioid-crisis. Dr. Collins has since met with leaders of pharmaceutical and medical device companies to discuss potential collaborations with the NIH and FDA on some of the projects proposed at the meetings.
Christin is now serving on the planning committee and will be speaking at a follow-up meeting, commissioned by the NIH, to be held October 11-12, 2017 at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Additional information on the meeting can be viewed online:
We invite you to read a recent blog post in which Christin Veasley shares some of the lessons she's learned from 30 years of living with chronic pain.