Opportunities for people with pain to have their voices heard by federal officials are rare. That’s why it’s so important for the public to take advantage of two major opportunities to comment on the state of pain care at the highest levels of the U.S. government: the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Opportunity #1: HHS Interagency Pain Management Best Practices Task Force
Deadline: June 15
How to take action: Submit comments here

The first, and most urgent, opportunity is through the HHS Interagency Pain Management Best Practices Task Force, which was convened last week and is accepting public comment until June 15. This task force is charged with determining current best practices in acute and chronic pain management and resolving inconsistencies in federal health agencies’ policies regarding pain management. A prestigious panel of 28 experts was chosen by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Service, including U.S. Pain Foundation’s National Director of Policy and Advocacy Cindy Steinberg—the only patient representative who was selected.

“HHS oversees both the FDA and the CDC both of whom have played a key role in shaping pain care in the US Pain, which is why submitting comments to this task force is so vital,” says Steinberg. “Thus far, the task force has heard from some pain patients and pain advocates—but we need to make sure they hear from as many people as possible with a stake in patient care.”

If your pain care has been affected by specific government policies such as the CDC guidelines, the FDA opioid policy, CMS coverage of nonpharmacological treatments and others, this is the perfect opportunity to write in and be heard. Steinberg encourages patients to elaborate on what they consider “best practices in pain management” as well as to tell their stories and speak to any difficulties they’ve had with getting appropriate pain care.

To learn more about this committee whose final report is due one year from now, read about its first meeting on May 30 and 31 or view the video recording by clicking here.

Opportunity #2: FDA Public Meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development on Chronic Pain
Sept. 10
How to take action: Submit comments here

The second opportunity is the FDA Public Meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development on Chronic Pain being held on July 9 in Silver Spring, MD. The FDA is interested in hearing about the impact of chronic pain on patients’ lives, their views of and experiences with various treatments and the challenges or barriers they have faced accessing treatment. Several U.S. Pain representatives will be in attendance.

The FDA is accepting public comment on these issues until Sept. 10. While there is no room left to attend the meeting, interested patients can watch the meeting via webcast here.

“We at US Pain have heard from many of our members who have had challenges accessing treatments that help them manage their pain—both pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments,” says Steinberg. “This is the perfect opportunity to explain the challenges you have confronted and what you think must be done to improve access.”

Your voice matters

“Oftentimes, those of us living with pain feel helpless, like changing government policy in order to  improve the plight of pain sufferers for relief from relentless pain is impossible for us to do,” says Steinberg. “These are two opportunities to speak out and be heard directly by key policymakers.  It is a mood booster to feel like you took action that can make a meaningful difference in your life and that of others in a similar situation. So head to your computer, or desk, or wherever you go to gather your thoughts, and write in what you have to say about living with pain in America. Your voice matters!”

To stay up-to-date on more calls-to-action like this, sign up as a U.S. Pain advocate.