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In April at the National Rx Drug Abuse Summit and in a recent Journal of American Medical Association article, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced a bold new initiative to advance addiction and pain research called “Helping to End Addiction Long-term,” or the HEAL Initiative. Congress has added $500 million to NIH’s budget to pay for this initiative.

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Two U.S. Pain Foundation staff members–Cindy Steinberg, national director of Policy and Advocacy, and Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, clinical director of Pain Connection–have been nominated to serve on influential committees within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Steinberg was announced May 1 as one of 28 members appointed to the newly established Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force. Steinberg is the only representative selected from a patient organization. The task force, created as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, aims to outline best practices and address gaps and inconsistencies in the management of acute and chronic pain.

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Stewart hosting a table in MI.

Rare Disease Day is internationally recognized as Feb. 28.  This year, U.S. Pain Foundation had multiple pain warriors who represented the organization during February and also on the first of March for Rare Disease Day. Ambassadors representing U.S. Pain included Suzanne Stewart, Julian Phillips, and Dawn Stancliff.

Each hosted an event to raise awareness for the many Americans living with a rare disease; statistics show 1 in 20 people are affected. Stancliff hosted an information table at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD; Stewart hosted a table at The Summit in Canton, MI; and Phillips hosted a table at the Harrisburg State Building in PA.

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The Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC), the nation’s highest pain policy advisory committee, held its biannual meeting Oct. 23 at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, MD.  The IPRCC is the committee that oversaw the development of the National Pain Strategy, as well as the recently released Federal Pain Research Strategy. U.S. Pain Foundation’s National Director of Policy and Advocacy Cindy Steinberg, a member of the IPRCC, was in attendance.

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On June 1, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released the Federal Pain Research Strategy (FPRS), a long-term strategic plan for the federal agencies that support pain research. It is essentially a companion plan to the National Pain Strategy (NPS), which identifies what steps must be taken to improve pain awareness, professional education, and delivery of care.

“U.S. Pain Foundation is pleased with the thoughtful work that was invested by many researchers in creating this excellent plan,” says Cindy Steinberg, national director of policy and advocacy for U.S. Pain. “There is no specific funding earmarked to implement this essential plan, so we encourage our members to support our efforts to advocate for increased funding for pain research at the NIH and within other federal agencies.”

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U.S. Pain’s National Director of Policy and Advocacy, Cindy Steinberg, was invited to present the patient perspective at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 12th Annual Pain Consortium Symposium on May 31 and June 1. Each year, noted researchers working in the field of pain management are invited to present their research findings and an award is given to a junior investigator who has done outstanding pain research.This year, the theme was, “Multidisciplinary Strategies for Pain Management.”

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U.S. Pain urges its members to participate in livestreams of two major events about pain policy at the federal level happening this May. The first is a meeting at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services entitled, “Implementation of the National Pain Strategy (NPS) Listening Session,” that will take place May 11 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm EST.

The event, which is being hosted by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will provide an update on efforts to implement the NPS, the nation’s first strategic plan for advancing pain management, and improving the quality of life for all 100 million Americans living with pain. While the NPS itself has been finalized with input from patient groups, including U.S. Pain Foundation, the next crucial step is obtaining funding from Congress to implement it. Advance registration for this event is required by May 5. To register, click here.

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