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!