Chronic pain suffer concerned about new prescribing techniques

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – There is growing concern among some suffering from chronic pain about how medication is being prescribed across the country.

Here in North Carolina, some chronic pain suffers say the medicine they’re getting is changing.

“You can’t have as many different medicines as you could before,” said Jenny Waterman, a chronic pain suffer living in Pamlico County who deals with intense migraines and nerve damage.

Waterman is prescribed strong pain medicine to make her condition manageable. On average, she takes four to five pain pills a day.

But due to prescribing changes, Waterman said she can’t get some of the stronger medicine she needs when her condition gets worse.

“If I get into a situation where I have a flare-up though, I’m totally out of luck,” she said.

Waterman said many doctors may be afraid of prescribing certain medicines because they don’t want to be a part of the growing opioid epidemic sweeping the country and killing thousands each year.

However, she argues reducing addiction shouldn’t come at the expense of treating chronic pain properly.

In North Carolina, the STOP Act took effect on January 1st. It’s main goal was to reduce the number of opioid prescriptions to prevent addiction.

Some doctors argue the changes in the prescribing technique has more to do with new CDC guidelines than it does with the STOP Act.

“The CDC recommends a 3 day supply for acute pain management, and the STOP Act Law puts a limit to 5 days,” said Dr. Jason Foltz, the Interim Director of ECU Physicians.

Foltz said they started training staff in July for the changes in prescribing techniques.

Doctor, and North Carolina representative, Greg Murphy sponsored and wrote the STOP Act. He said it’s intended purpose was never to hurt those suffering from chronic pain. In fact, he said there are clauses in the act that exempts those suffering from chronic pain to the more stringent requirements for obtaining opioids.

“I think some individuals are just going a little bit to the extreme without understanding the implications and the facts of the law itself,” Murphy said.

Doctors Murphy and Foltz both encourage patients that have concerns about their prescriptions to address them directly with their doctors. They said the CDC guidelines and STOP Act shouldn’t prevent them from getting the medicine they need to better function on a daily basis.

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