Letter: Don’t forget about legitimate use of opioids

Published 11:39 pm Friday, September 28, 2018

As I joined chronic pain advocates gathering in St. Paul this Tuesday, the united message was simple: “Don’t punish pain.” This rally marked one of the first in a nationwide effort to raise awareness surrounding the chronic pain community’s unnecessary suffering at the hands of legislative and regulatory efforts to fight the opioid epidemic. And it’s particularly important in Minnesota where our state Legislature recently considered a tax on the distribution of all prescription opioids.

Sciatica, cancer, scoliosis and fibromyalgia — we all know people who suffer from these conditions. And these conditions often cause people to sustain debilitating pain and discomfort. Stigmatizing these patients as addicts or criminals and potentially restricting their access to prescription opioids — often the only effective solution to their pain — seems cruel. Unfortunately, aggressive government policies and regulations have already decreased access to prescription opioids, leading some physicians and hospitals to halt pain treatment altogether. Further barriers, like a tax on opioid distribution, will only burden our state’s most vulnerable patients, and that’s not fair.

The voice of the chronic pain community must be heard as we continue to look for solutions to the opioid epidemic in Minnesota. Lawmakers must not forget the legitimate, and heavily regulated, use of opioid medications. I was optimistic to see so many out in support of the issue this Tuesday, and I hope that our legislators take the cue.

Dan Lavalle