Pain Week is a unique experience unmatched pain education, and incredible collaboration. How did I miss the last several years of such a unique meeting? From the development of the programs pre-meeting to the day I steeped foot on the 4th floor of the Cosmopolitan in Las Vega, it was one pleasant surprise after the next.
The meetings began on September 4th. Here I am on day-3; the rooms remain packed with multidisciplinary providers including world renowned clinicians from every facet of healthcare.
I have met with industry leaders who clearly seem to have their hearts in the right place in terms of creating safer opioid alternatives using technology to blunt peaks of IR products to blunting peaks at target CNS receptors. I have seen unique technology developments for pro-drug technology that should prove advantageous in mitigating abuse risk. I have seen unique NSAID technology that allows for more targeted anti-inflammatory strategies in an effort to minimize GI, kidney, and bleeding detriments. The poster sessions were incredible, remain well-attended on day-3, but not overwhelming. The new science presented is excellent and the authors were well-prepared to discuss their finding.
Perhaps the most compelling is how industry doesn’t seem to be the devil that some would lead us to believe. In just the opposite fashion, they have remained professional with an eye towards safe medication use and educating on the risks in addition to the benefits, but not in a templated fashion based on FDA requirements. In fact, the collaboration among and across industry leaders has been quite compelling; we are beginning to see a selfless effort for some industry leaders to band together an effort to improve outcomes more globally rather than to garner personal financial benefit.
But what sets this meeting apart from others is the interdisciplinary comradery, the collaboration among and between industry leaders, and the fun personal and artistic nature portrayed at each turn and step from one educational session to the next.
Today is Opioid Safety Day (A-z) that includes courses to enhance safe strategies for opioid utilization. This of course will culminate with one near and dear to my heart, “The Great Divide: the debate on Long-term Opioid Prescribing for Chronic NonCancer Pain”. It was heartwarming last night to receiving a warm smile and wave from Dr. Jane Ballantyne as I was speaking on the phone with colleagues back home that stayed behind to care for patients (wishing you were here Doctors Tim Atkinson and Annette Payne). After some misgivings among previously selected educators/thought leaders in our respective fields, Dr. Ballantyne graciously agreed to present the peer reviewed data(or lack thereof), for the long term use of opioids in noncancer pain, a welcomed perspective of the facts. This will be moderated by our soft spoken fearless leader and pain expert, Dr. Daniel Carr, who I heard wanted to sail here but couldn’t find a breezy waterway to Vegas from Boston. The session will kick off by highly regarded Epidemiologist and Public Health Expert, Nabarun Dasgupta. Piggybacked on his views, we will hear from nationally renowned Public Health Policy Educator, Dr. Stephen Ziegler of Purdue University (obviously never to be confused with industry leader Purdue Pharma). Some background will be provided about the polar opposite positions that have been well-publicized by PROP and PROMPT, both groups of which have been highly visible to the media and lawmakers nationwide. World renowned neurologist, researcher/clinician Dr. Charles Argoff will provide cases of chronic opioid patients that support and refute the already well-exposed positions of both PROMPT and PROP.
So I leave you with these thoughts…
Pain Week is not about selfish industry agendas; it is not about self-interest groups; it is not about parading personal research to impress others. Pain Week is about collaboration among various healthcare disciplines in a fun and healthy learning environment, not so overwhelming as to lose the forest among the trees; it is about quality education; it is about networking among peers; it is about new and innovative ideas; it is about fairly outlining multidisciplinary management from physical therapy to interventional procedures, to drug therapy to counseling and education.
But perhaps most importantly, it is about making the world a better place for pain patients, and learning together as a team of professionals how best to strive for such nirvana.