As death tolls rise due to opioid overdoses in the United States, medical professionals and medical organizations are banding together with government agencies to curb the so-called “opioid epidemic”. Moves by local and state officials have begun to make a difference, and now the federal government is implementing aggressive action against the unnecessary deaths. In April 2018, the American Pain Society lent its endorsement to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in combatting opioid overdose deaths with scientific research.
Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
The NIH announced its strategy to combat the opioid crisis in April, unveiling the Helping to End Addiction Long-Term Initiative. The federal health agency will earmark $1.1 billion toward this initiative in the fiscal year 2018, which is a substantial increase from years past. By doubling the available research funds, medical researchers can more adequately study pain management practices and the misuse of powerful painkilling prescriptions, usually relying on opioids to manage chronic pain.
Over-prescription of these medications, coupled with a high potential for misuse, has led to thousands of overdose deaths in the past decade. In the year 2016 alone, deaths related to the use and misuse of synthetic opioid drugs like fentanyl and its analogs were responsible for over 20,000 losses of life. This represents a doubling of the rate of overdose deaths encountered in 2010. It is clear that research initiatives sponsored by the NIH and supported by the American Pain Society are desperately needed.
Researchers hope to discover new therapeutic methods that serve as viable alternatives to opioid medications. With advanced pain research now able to be conducted in the United States, thanks to increased funding, medical professionals across the country will be able to treat their patients more effectively while reducing the chance of overdoses and painkiller misuse.
Advanced Pain Management
Dr. Narinder Grewal, MD, a board-certified pain management physician with a successful practice in Southern California, believes that these initiatives are long overdue. His practice, Advanced Pain Management and Neurology, specializes in diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal and spinal conditions leading to chronic pain. With advanced treatment practices, his patients can overcome their pain without the use of potentially dangerous narcotic painkillers.
Diagnosing chronic pain can be extremely difficult, causing medical professionals to resort to opioid pain medications as a means of providing relief to their patients. Over time, those medications can lead to addiction, and their potential for misuse has spurred many thousands of deaths. Dr. Grewal and his team of pain management professionals at Advanced Pain Management in Valencia, California, employ diagnostic tools and cutting-edge treatment protocols, effectively treating patients’ chronic pain while avoiding the unnecessary use of opioid medications.
Much more research needs to be conducted to develop pain management therapies, and the NIH announcement is a great start. Without adequate funding, innovation in developing alternative therapies has been stalled in the United States, with researchers wringing their hands as overdose deaths continue to rise. Dr. Grewal, his team, and medical professionals around the country applaud the efforts of the NIH in applying funding and scientific research against the scourge of opioid-related overdose deaths.