Paul Gileno, founder and president of the U.S. Pain Foundation, has collaborated with NACDS in a shared effort to raise awareness about the unintended consequences for patients with chronic pain who are denied access to their medications because of government crackdowns to prevent drug abuse.
…working together is a huge part of anybody’s pain journey, and the pharmacist is part of our team.
Gileno will receive an award—significantly during September, which is Pain Awareness Month—from the American Society of Pain Educators for the Pain Educator of the Year Award. Gileno co-wrote an op-ed for the Tampa Tribune with NACDS President & CEP Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE. NACDS.org caught up with Gileno to discuss his personal connection to chronic pain and what it means to him to bring attention to this important, complex issue.
Q: What did that mean to you when you heard you would receive The American Society of Pain Educators for the Pain Educator of the Year Award?
A: I was actually surprised, but it’s exciting to know that patient advocates are appreciated and that we’re just as important as other educators in helping people with chronic pain on their journey. It’s the best feeling to feel appreciated.
Q: You worked with NACDS on the Drug Store News Pain microsite that is comprised of personal stories of people living with pain. Why do you think personal stories are such an important part of gaining perspective on this issue?
A: We’re trying to get patient stories out there to say there are two sides to every story. We have legitimate, good people who are taking their pain medications correctly who are not getting access to them, and we’re trying to show that there are many more people who need their medications who are going to be affected.
Q: I know that you’re a pain patient yourself. What is your story?
A: Twelve years ago I was lifting a box working a catered event. I used to be a chef caterer. I basically snapped my spine, which broke the lower spine and severed my left sciatic nerve. I didn’t know it at the time, but that began my pain journey. I came to the realization that I’m a person with chronic pain and I had to acknowledge that this is going to be with me—maybe forever—and I need to start learning to live life with chronic pain.
Q: What made you want to collaborate with NACDS?
A: The person with pain, and patients in general, have a team of people that we work with on our journey. Healthcare providers, families—but also our pharmacists, and our pharmacies—are a big part of our pain journey. Becoming educated and working together is a huge part of anybody’s pain journey, and the pharmacist is part of our team.
Q: Why is it so important to have the buy-in of everyone on a patient’s healthcare team?
A: It’s the access to medications. It’s the access to treatment. It’s the access to being educated. The pharmacist is a huge part of our team because we need the education. We need the empowerment and we need as many people on our side as possible to help with the management of our pain.