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Poll: Chronic pain sufferers 'uncomfortable' during pharmacy visits
March 11th, 2014
GOLDEN, Colo. – As health providers and authorities step up efforts to thwart abuse of opioid painkillers, many chronic pain patients feel uncomfortable when they visit their pharmacy, according to a survey by the National Pain Foundation.
The foundation said Tuesday that 52% of more than 300 chronic pain sufferers polled said they "are concerned that they will be treated like a drug addict by their pharmacist," while another 29% stated they "are concerned that they will be embarrassed by their pharmacist."
In addition, 17% of respondents said they were "treated poorly or very poorly" by their pharmacist.
Pain patients expressed similar views in the survey regarding visits to physicians and nurses.
Respondents comments about health providers included the following: "Most treat me with suspicion and assume I'm a drug-seeking addict," and "I've been degraded, humiliated, called a drug addict, told I take enough meds to kill an elephant."
The survey's findings reflect the difficult balance needed to serve pain patients and regulate controlled substances. Nationwide, health providers and authorities have instituted measures intended to preserve ready access to these drugs for legitimate pain patients while preventing painkiller abuse and misuse.
The National Pain Foundation said it's conducting a series of surveys of pain patients to "give voice" to the 1.5 billion people worldwide who suffer from chronic pain. According to the Institutes of Medicine, 100 million American adults suffer with pain, costing $635 billion in medical treatment and lost productivity, the foundation reported, adding that pain affects more people than cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined.
"This comes as no surprise given the plethora of media attention on prescription pain medicine abuse, addiction and death," stated Daniel Bennett, M.D., chairman of the National Pain Foundation. "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."