The American Society of Hematology (ASH) has urged caution as policymakers propose changes to laws and regulations surrounding the prescription of opioid medications.
While ASH leaders recognize that the opioid epidemic in United States is a public health emergency, opioid medications often can be the only effective method of controlling the pain associated with sickle cell disease, blood cancers, and other hematologic disorders.
ASH "supports a public health approach that improves the way opioids are prescribed and reduces misuse and overdose yet safeguards access to these drugs for acute and chronic pain treatment for individuals with certain clinical conditions.... Every patient should have access to the approved evidence-based treatments for their disease and associated symptoms as recommended by their physician. Patients should not suffer from a lack of recognition of their pain nor should they have to suffer unnecessary delays in obtaining access to appropriate medications for which there is no effective substitute. Patients should be treated accordingly based on the type of therapy recommended and/or the most appropriate delivery mechanism in consultation with their physician and in coordination with other members of their health care team. Additional research focused on acute and chronic pain in individuals with hematologic conditions, as well as research into new health care delivery strategies is critical to ensure that patients with pain receive timely, state of the art pain management. Barriers and physician disincentives regarding the management of pain in hematologic conditions must be avoided," according to the policy statement.
Statement on Opioid Use in Patients with Hematologic Diseases and Disorders, American Society of Hematology, April 18, 2018
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