• New Resources Made Available to Prescribing Clinicians
    At its annual meeting earlier this month, the National Association of State Controlled Substances Authorities (NASCSA) formally endorsed the Federation of State Medical Boards’ (FSMB) newly revised "Model Policy on the Use of Opioid Analgesics in the Treatment of Chronic Pain" by unanimous vote. FSMB policy is intended as a resource for use by state medical boards in educating their licensees about cautious and responsible prescribing of controlled substances, while providing guidelines to help avoid the overtreatment or under-treatment of patients with pain. Representing an update to its Model Policy of 2004, the new policy acknowledges that evidence for the risks associated with opioids has surged, while evidence for benefits of long-term opioid use has remained insufficient. It also recognizes that under-treatment of chronic pain in the US continues to be a serious public health issue. The FSMB has recently published an updated and expanded edition of “Responsible Opioid Prescribing: A Clinician's Guide,” a resource for clinicians involved in opioid therapy for chronic pain. Read a news story about the proceedings, with link to more information about the FSMB and resources, here.
  • American Migraine Foundation Encourages Visits to New Online Site
    In a news release yesterday, The American Migraine Foundation announced a redesign and expansion of its website,, to provide a wealth of consumer-friendly information on preventing, treating and coping with migraine and other headache disorders. The site is described as the companion site to the American Headache Society, an information resource for clinicians and researchers working in migraine. Some 36 million Americans live with migraine, more than have asthma or diabetes combined. An estimated 3 to 7 million of these live with chronic migraine, a highly disabling neurological disorder. The enhanced website includes a new monthly “Spotlight,” where migraine sufferers and the public can turn for more detailed information about living and managing many aspects of migraine. “Spotlight” will change topics approximately once a month. Read more about this new resource here.
  • Study Finds Correlation Between Pre-treatment Pain and Prognosis for Survival
    Writing in The Journal of Pain, researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center report that pre-treatment pain intensity is an independent survival predictor for patients with head and neck cancer. Pain is a frequent early sign of head and neck cancer, as a result of destructive lesions and direct tissue and bone involvement. Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common malignancy worldwide, with 54,000 cases diagnosed in the US each year. The study assessed over 2,000 patients who were newly diagnosed with head and neck cancers. Among those with oral cancer, overall five-year survival was 31 percent for patients who reported severe pain and 52 percent for those without severe pain. The survival differentiation was similar in patients with pharyngeal cancer. The authors noted that patients who present with severe pain at diagnosis should be closely monitored and promptly treated for pain symptoms. Read a news story about the findings here.
  • Improving Animal Research to Promote Better Pain Therapies
    An interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers at Stanford University is developing a small wireless device to advance the state of the art in chronic pain research. The work builds on existing expertise in the deployment of micro devices that function within the body and are powered remotely.  The device would allow researchers to bypass a major hurdle in their current animal study model: the fiber-optic cable used for optogenetics. Optogenetic research involves genetically engineering nerves in mice to be responsive to light, and offers promise as a new model for studying pain mechanisms. But the cable from which the light is emitted limits the mice’s activities, resulting in an unnatural environment. The wireless device under development would allow the mice to move and socialize freely and, the team asserts, may assist in the   design of studies that more closely emulate the human experience with chronic pain. Read a news story about the work here. A press release from the university detailing the work of the Stanford team may be read here.
Daniel Carr, MD, FABPM
Pain Research, Education, and Policy Program
Department of Public Health and Community Medicine
Tufts Medical Center
Boston, MA


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