PROMPT Position Remains Unchanged!

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Regarding The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article entitled “A Pain-Drug Champion Has Second Thoughts”, published on December 14, 2012, authors THOMAS CATAN and EVAN PEREZshould be ashamed of themselves for “cherry picking” from DR. PORTENOY’S interview for purposes of sensationalizing their writing and riling readers (especially patients), in an effort to sell newspapers.  A video that includes a portion of that interview can be viewed HERE.

According to my personal communication with Dr. Portenoy, in speaking about the WSJ article published above,

“The article quoted me accurately but selected a few quotes from a very long interview.”

It lacks the voices of people with chronic pain, greatly overstates for dramatic effect both my influence on medical practice and the changes in my thinking, ignores the hyperbole and overreaching of those who seek to reduce overall use of these drugs without worrying about access for those who could benefit, and is in my opinion more about the reporter’s viewpoint than mine. I do not endorse its take-home message.”

The fact that Dr. Portenoy openly admitted the history, potential liabilities, and shared some very personal aspects of opioid use for chronic non-cancer pain is a testament to his honesty, integrity, and genuine nature.  He has spent a lifetime advocating for chronic cancer and noncancer pain patients.  I can remember back in the 1980’s when oncologists were fearful to even use opioids for terminally ill patients.  This has dramatically changed because of well-intended clinicians that have tirelessly advocated for patients, including Dr. Portenoy, over the course of decades.

While this is perhaps the shortest blog post on this site, it comes in response to a barrage of emails from PROMPT followers and of course several misguided blog posts and related comments that surfaced following the WSJ article.  This blog post is intended to send a concise but clear message to our followers; PROMPT and our members have not taken a 180 degree turn in our advocacy for safe chronic opioid use in appropriate noncancer pain patients, nor is that intended to change in the foreseeable future.  Dr. Portenoy’s statement above speaks for itself.

We’ve said it before; we’ll say it again.  Our mission statement is “To advance a universal inter-disciplinary, multi-modal approach in striving for effective pain management, including but not limited to, medically necessary opioids for chronic noncancer and palliative pain management and to advocate for appropriate Federal and State legislative strategies that improve outcomes and mitigate risks throughout the United States for all chronic pain sufferers.”  That has not changed.

To all pain sufferers that are watching this site, all of us from PROMPT wish you a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season, and good fortune for the New Year!


16 thoughts on “PROMPT Position Remains Unchanged!

  1. I don’t know who all these people are but I do know one thing thanks to all the do gooders over all of us that have to suffer every single day now in 2015 those that decide that the meds we take are making us addicted for one don’t have a clue that if you are in constant pain every minute of every day or night that we don’t get the same form or type of addiction as someone that is just using the opiods and not i repeat not living in constant pain also it will nit make our lives better richer happier by taking away what medications we take that is helping us get through or lives most of us don’t like the fact that we have to take meds or that we can’t be the way we were before illness or damage happened but taking meds away will not cure us just make our lives worse if we have a form of addiction so what its not like we are going to get instant healthy happy bodies will it? We want to get through the rest of our lives as painless as we can if we have good days fine there aren’t many but at least we still have some dignity left yes their are natural products out most that can help us but most of us not only can’t afford to buy them on a constant bases then the medical community does everything in their power to get us NOT to even try those instead they want us to do their B.S. Ways of bionrainwash us into thinking we don’t have pain yah when someone gets a back ache from time to time or a migraine then sticking a bunch of needles into them or massage therapy yoga and keeping your self calm might work BUT the thing is we did most of some type of that long before the heavy meds became part of our routine and lets face it most of the people don’t really understand chronic pain and what its like to live that way unless your one of us because its just like one of the other things in life that happen that is just too much to deal with like when you lose a child to suicide the concept of that is just too much to realize how it feel every day to live with unless your one of us and you that sit there and decide that some idiot out there get ahold of opiods and sell them others die from overdoses to them that they weren’t meant to have compared to the people elderly and those suffering so much that if you take away the meds that are helping to ease that pain day in and day out they are going to use what ever means necessary to end that misery permanently and that alot of chronic suffering people that will die because someone decided to try again to change thing they didn’t understand or stop people from selling something to make money if you really want to fix things fix the reasen there isn’t any money that inflation is so high why our gov. Is selling out the country and leave us the hell alone

  2. I love what your doing. How can I join PROMPT. Another question,is there anyone who knows or remembers Skip Baker ? Also, there was a march on pain years ago in DC the first ever I was told and Dr Portenoy was a speaker,did anyone out there attend it ? I know this is a dumb question but with pain treatment, shouldn’t even an old person with a past of smoking still have the right to be treated with opiates even if Dr’s cant give exact findings so your told things like RSD or causalgia and then changed to neuropathy but all you know is that you Hurt ? On a side note anyone else out there who had to hide under their desk 2x a day as a child during A- BOMB Attack drills in the 60’s who can respond to these questions? Just wondering how many of us are left suffering in pain at our age.I have A lot to say but for now just testing the waters to see who believes what .What about God knowing what he was doing when he made and gave freely to man poppies and ALL their properties and who took it from man to control it, or man. I mean pain in one form or another has always been used by men to control other men.Am I really free when I have to grovel each month at my age for the blessed RX. I am way past the point(if there even ever was one) of risking my life or anyone else’s doing something the government says is illegal with medication so where does PROMPT stand? I have been trying to turn pain into pleasure with my mind and had some scary results any input would be helpfull. Gods love to all of you no matter what.. No strings attached

  3. Agreed! I think the media hypes up opioids as a way to get attention and to generate revenues. I’m sure a lot of this media hysteria can be traced back to shows like Jerry Springer, Dr. Phil , and Dr. Drew. Also, many opponents of opioids tend to have strong political and media connections. Of course, there is a very large monetary component to this problem as well. Too many people depend on treating and “curing,” addiction. A lot of “addiction specialists,” make enormous profits by selling books , giving lectures and treating addicts at incredibly expensive clinics. It is in the best financial interest for many people to have people addicted. There are probably thousands of people being treated for addictions which they don’t actually have.The “addiction treatment,” industry probably rakes in tens of billions of dollars annually. As we all know, money is the root of all evil.

  4. Why does the media continue to hype and sensationalize opioids? These are medications that give so many with chronic pain their lives back. Dr Kolodny has been thoroughly discredited and so has his agenda-driven org, PROP. My thanks to Dr Fudin from PROMPT for attempting to set the record straight. It is too bad that Dr Portenoy’s comments were picked through and not presented in their entirety. Obviously people should not be using opioids unless they have a valid medical reason to. I stand with chronic pain patients. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Doctors must have the freedom to set the dose and duration of use and tailor their approach to individual patient needs.

  5. The bottom line is people of America that suffer from chronic pain need and deserve pain relief.
    Its their right to receive whatever treatment plan their doctor deems necessary to give them the best quality of life possible.
    Everyone that suffers from chronic pain needs access to whatever best fits their needs. I don’t care that Dr. Andrew Kolodny thinks those that suffer with pain shouldn’t need more than 100mgs of morphine a day and /or the equivalent or that PROP wants to limit this to 90 days. PROP members are not the ones suffering every day.

    PROP has done nothing for me but show how cold and uncompassionate people can be.

    I pray the FDA makes the correct decision on this petition.

    Everyone have a Happy New Year, I hope 2013 brings you a year with less pain.

    1. As a pain patient, I fully endorse Mark’s statement. As far as I know, Dr. Kolodny has no expertise in pain management, nor does he have chronic pain. Are his ideas and opinions about pain management even valid? I don’t see any pain management doctors trying to practice psychiatry.

  6. Thank you very much for this blog. It is very appreciated in light of all the bad press that sensationalizes wanton prescritption writing when in truth an understanding of what all those in pain and their doctors should NEVER be legislated in the press! Hasn’t anyone learned from our recent elections that these so called journalists skew it all to their advantage?

  7. What the WSJ did with this article was not journalism. It was yellow journalism. At quite an egregious level too, might I add. The editor and journalists should be fired for producing such a terrible and biased article. The video is even worse. They give Andrew Kolodny and Betts Tully, two founding members of PROP, more than enough time to explain their (in my opinion cruel and misguided) views, yet they selectively edit and splice together small segments of Dr.Portenoy’s interview. This article was far from balanced or fair. Give two founding members of PROP free range to say whatever they want and then they hammer and twist the words of a single PROMPT member. These “journalists,” should be ashamed of themselves. It seems like every month PROP sinks to a new low. I can’t help but wonder when will the members of PROP at least attempt to use honesty and science instead of deception, fear, and ignorance.

  8. It would be nice if, Dr Portenoy would make a statement in another newspaper ie; ( NY Times) to explain that this was a mistake. I can’t imagine what kind of impact it made on the elderly and severely disabled folks when they read this in the WSJ. There’s so many elderly that don’t use a computer but do read newspapers. Kinda scary huh? What the WSJ did with this article is just horrible. My opinion, they need to correct the flavor of the article. I am still encouraging patients to comment here and to also write to those two journalists and shame them for the way they portrayed the medicine that helps so many people. JMO of course.

  9. I’m so glad to hear that the position presented originally by this group has not changed. We need as many people behind us spreading the truth. People don’t understand how many people depend on this type of medication to live a normal life, or as close as we can get.

  10. “Becomes the least of the patients’ problems.” I have been in a flair of PAIN, “Four days now”. Like the guy before me said, “If i didn’t tell my family, on this beautiful Christmas Eve, that I had just taken my meds, no one would know”. Thanks Dr. Fudin, and Dr. Portenoy. God bless you guys. I’m hurting to much to write anymore. I wish I had that “speak, and write” program, cause I’m surly not done, I just can’t write anymore. Merry Christmas, and may the pain be taken away for a few hours. All my friends in COFWA, God bless you,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,docs

  11. Dr. Fudin,

    Thank you for shedding light on this article. This woman Beth never really said what she did about her back pain. Did it just go away or was she just addicted to pain medication. I think this is where a lot of people get confused. Most people suffering from chronic pain seek out relief for their ongoing chronic pain and some try everything and their last option is the opioids.

    In many cases people get titrated up a level of relief and that’s where the doctor stops and the patient can go on being on the same dose for years never needing a increase. A lot of people get so use to this pain relief they cant live any other way, who in their right mind would want to go back to suffering all paralyzed in chronic pain ,not me. I think a lot of people that become addicted never really had any pain to begin with and they found out they could get a real good buzz from opioids and this is the mistake they make. They continue on till their life spins out of control like Beth’s did. Her story sounds more like a person addicted to pain meds rather than a person seeking out relief for their never ending chronic pain. It sure didn’t look like she was in much pain to me so what happen did her pain just stop.

    I don’t know how or why Dr. Kolodny became such a expert on the subject of opioids. Dr. Portenoy cant even give out advice without reporters twisting his words. But that’s what reporters do to make their reporting the best, they stoop as low as a person can go. I refuse to let any of this upset me instead it shows how ignorant some people can be about the treatment of chronic pain.

    Much Regards,
    Mark S. Barletta

  12. I completely agree with Donna, Marian,and Nancy. Advocates of PROP have been publishing articles- even if the articles trash the hard work and labor of other doctors. Dr. Kolodny has openly admitted to wanting a significant portion of the people in New York who use opioids to switch to Suboxone. Hmm….I wonder why. Why would any one doctor be so pedantic and peculiar about which medicine pain patients use? Strange. At least we have esteemed and well educated men like Dr. Fudin and Dr. Portenoy advocating for chronic non-cancer pain patients who do benefit from opioid pain medicines. The only evidence that naysayers have are anecdotes and biased opinions, which clearly do not count as evidence.

  13. Thank you for clearing this matter up for us, it is a shame that the reporters tried to twist Dr. Portenoy’s
    words to suit their own purpose. The reporters need to stop pushing their own agenda and accept that their job is report the truth while remaining unbiased. They have not had any medical training and know nothing about chronic pain care, they should leave it to the experts and report fact instead of sensationalism. We Chronic Pain patients and Medical care professionals who care for us really don’t need more of their negativity, they should feel shame at themselves for being so selfish, caring only about their ratings and what new mis-information they can publish next.

  14. Thanks Dr Fudin for clairifying what the situation was with that article. It did have many pain patients concerned. I personally didn’t feel that it is was correct because a specialist would not believe in something so strongly for that many years, then completely change his mind all of a sudden. I hope that Dr Porteney has an opportunity to make a statement to counter act the cherry picked article that WSJ wrote. I feel that it is not good reporting on the behalf of WSJ to take words out of context just to try and beef up an article. Plus, once again “chronic pain patients” are left out as a reason for the article in the first place. That it is very sad.. We have got to change the conversation of/about pain in America and reduce the stigma once and for all. This article, in my opinion? Made it worse now. We need to try very hard to change this message. Legitimate pain patients are being portrayed as addicts more than ever. Thank you for continuing to support people with pain. We all appreciate you, Dr Fudin and PROMPT org.

  15. Thank you for this timely post. Obviously, the intended agenda & overall message was set, BEFORE the interview with Dr. Portenoy even occurred. The “journalists” did what they do best…to edit until their goals are met.

    I found it interesting that Dr. Kolodny mentioned that the original pain that was being treated (with opioids), becomes the LEAST of the patient’s problems. REALLY, Dr. Kolodny? How so? That comment is a perfect example of how little some doctors know about chronic pain, and how detrimental it is to have PROP attempting to make policy changes. The pain that I have, is intractable and severe. It’s caused by a genetic connective tissue disorder, will continue to progress, and cannot be cured. It’s the kind of pain that makes my life impossible to live, without the daily use of opioids. Unlike the woman in the video, opioids don’t make me a “ZOMBIE”, most people in my life don’t know that I even take them, and I’m on a higher dose than was mentioned in the video. How lucky for her, that her pain disappeared. Most of us aren’t so lucky.

    I commend Dr. Portenoy, and all of PROMPT, for your continued efforts to advocate for patients. Many of us rely on opioid medication, as we try to survive despite our serious pain conditions. Unfortuneatly, people like Dr. Kolodny (& PROP), seem to care more about their fifteen minutes of fame, than they do about patient care.

    Wishing PROMPT members & the patients they care about, a happy, healthy Holiday!


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