<p>A recent article in <em>Congressional Quarterly</em> gave voice to an often overlooked group in the debate on prescription drug abuse &mdash; the millions of Americans who live in chronic pain who may be unable to access the medications they need because of changes in regulatory policy. </p>

The Drug Enforcement Administration released a final rule on August 22 rescheduling hydrocodone combination products into Controlled Substance Schedule II, which is scheduled to take effect on October 6, 2014. The new rule is aimed to reduce prescription drug abuse which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, caused more than 14,000 deaths in 2008 alone. However, as many as 100 million Americans live with chronic pain, according to the Institute of Medicine.

The Congressional Quarterly article quotes Bob Tillman, director of policy and advocacy for the American Academy of Pain Management, who calls the prescription drug abuse a “complex problem.” He says, “You’re not only reducing the supply

[of pain medications] for those who use them inappropriately, but also for those in need.”

The Drug Store News Group also hosts a microsite to help bring attention and reduce the stigma Americans who live with chronic pain often experience. The site puts a face on these legitimate patients and what it means when they are unable to access the medications they need to manage pain. Working with the U.S. Pain Foundation, Drug Store News was able to capture the stories of those living with chronic pain and their daily struggles.

The heightened awareness in the media about the often untold side of the prescription drug abuse story is an important advancement that highlights the unintended victims of the debate—patients who legitimately need medications.

NACDS continues to work with stakeholders, including U.S. Pain Foundation, to effectively combat prescription drug abuse while also working to protect patient access to critical medications. NACDS supports creating a collaborative effort among federal and state government agencies, law enforcement and healthcare professionals to pursue more equitable solutions that target illegitimate sellers, better educate prescribers and implement more advanced drug monitoring and tracking technologies.