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House passes bill creating coalition to study chronic pain management


The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia House of Delegates unanimously passed a bill Thursday creating a coalition to study chronic pain management in the state and report its findings to the legislature.

While pain treatment is an important element in health care, Senate Bill 339 said, pain is a subjective experience.

“There is no objective measure of pain intensity. Consequently, the clinical and medical judgment of a prescriber is more essential in rendering effective treatment of a person’s level of pain.”

But a balance must be reached between proper treatment for chronic pain and the use or abuse of opioids.

“The abuse of pain medication in this state continues to be a nearly insurmountable plague,” the bill said. “Substance abuse continues to contribute to unnecessary deaths, causes countless societal breakdowns and causes a strain on our state and its citizens both financially and emotionally.”

While regulations have aimed to curb overprescribing and overuse of pain medications, the regulation in some instances may have caused patients to suffer from a lack of treatment options.

The House passed the measure so a comprehensive review can be conducted of the regulatory structures in place for pain management physicians. Because the bill has been amended since it was passed by the Senate, it will now return to the Senate for approval.

In its present form, the bill calls for the Dean of the School of Public Health at West Virginia University to serve as chair of the coalition. Other members will include a board-certified pain specialist, three physicians (two of whom operate a pain clinic and a third who is a primary care physician), a pharmacist, a consumer of health care services directly impacted by the regulation of pain clinics and a chiropractor.

The coalition will meet quarterly, keep records of actions and make recommendations to the legislature.

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