ASN Advocates for Access to Safe Alternatives to Opioids, NSAIDS

By Rachel Meyer

Policymakers and public health officials are sounding the alarm about the opioid overdose crisis nationwide.  More than 115 people die each day due to opioid-related drug overdoses, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar has made combatting this epidemic one of his top priorities.

One of the keys to success in reducing the fight against opioid-related deaths is ensuring patients and their families have access to safe alternatives to manage pain.  ASN is working in partnership with other advocates in Washington—including the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) and the Renal Physicians Association (RPA) to ensure alternatives exist for people affected by kidney diseases.

The increased national focus on the potential dangers of opioid products also comes at a time of increased national focus on the importance of palliative care throughout the course of patients’ lives—not just when the conservative care option is selected—and recognizing pain management as an important part of quality of life from the patient perspective.

For people with kidney diseases, however, finding the right pain management solution can be complicated by the importance of avoiding non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which can harm the kidneys and hasten the progression to kidney failure.  As our nation’s healthcare system aims to reduce misuse of opioids, safe alternatives such as over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen become important tools in the toolbox, especially for people for whom NSAIDS are unsafe.

Concerningly, the Food and Drug Administration issued notice under the Obama Administration that it planned to limit access to over-the-counter acetaminophen, focusing on higher-strength dosages.  For people with kidney diseases, especially those who already face a high daily pill burden, limiting that access to higher-dose acetaminophen products would present a challenge.  They may either be forced to increase pill burden with multiple lower-doses of the product, or consider more risky pain management strategies such as NSAIDS or even opioids.

At a time when we need more safe alternatives to opioids, ASN and other members of the Patient Access to Pain Relief coalition are advocating to ensure that access to acetaminophen—which when used appropriately constitutes a safe pain management option—is preserved under the Trump Administration. 

In recent weeks, the society and other coalition members have met with both White House staff and top HHS aides, focusing on the need to educate about safe use of acetaminophen instead of restricting access to it altogether.  ASN will continue to work collaboratively to ensure people with kidney diseases and their care team will have access to a range of safe alternatives to opioids and NSAIDS.

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Policymakers and public health officials are sounding the alarm about the opioid overdose crisis nationwide.  More than 115 people die each day due to opioid-related drug overdoses, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar has made combatting this epidemic one of his top priorities.

One of the keys to success in reducing the fight against opioid-related deaths is ensuring patients and their families have access to safe alternatives to manage pain.  ASN is working in partnership with other advocates in Washington—including the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) and the Renal Physicians Association (RPA) to ensure alternatives exist for people affected by kidney diseases.

The increased national focus on the potential dangers of opioid products also comes at a time of increased national focus on the importance of palliative care throughout the course of patients’ lives—not just when the conservative care option is selected—and recognizing pain management as an important part of quality of life from the patient perspective.

For people with kidney diseases, however, finding the right pain management solution can be complicated by the importance of avoiding non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which can harm the kidneys and hasten the progression to kidney failure.  As our nation’s healthcare system aims to reduce misuse of opioids, safe alternatives such as over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen become important tools in the toolbox, especially for people for whom NSAIDS are unsafe.

Concerningly, the Food and Drug Administration issued notice under the Obama Administration that it planned to limit access to over-the-counter acetaminophen, focusing on higher-strength dosages.  For people with kidney diseases, especially those who already face a high daily pill burden, limiting that access to higher-dose acetaminophen products would present a challenge.  They may either be forced to increase pill burden with multiple lower-doses of the product, or consider more risky pain management strategies such as NSAIDS or even opioids.

At a time when we need more safe alternatives to opioids, ASN and other members of the Patient Access to Pain Relief coalition are advocating to ensure that access to acetaminophen—which when used appropriately constitutes a safe pain management option—is preserved under the Trump Administration. 

In recent weeks, the society and other coalition members have met with both White House staff and top HHS aides, focusing on the need to educate about safe use of acetaminophen instead of restricting access to it altogether.  ASN will continue to work collaboratively to ensure people with kidney diseases and their care team will have access to a range of safe alternatives to opioids and NSAIDS.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018