U.S. Senate to Address Chronic Pain in Landmark Hearing

WASHINGTON, DC – February 14, 2012 – The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will today convene the first ever hearing on chronic pain, a growing public health epidemic that affects 116 million Americans at an annual cost of $635 billion in lost productivity and health care expenditures.  The hearing, Pain in America: Exploring Challenges to Relief, will examine solutions to disparities in pain research, treatment, education and patient care, and include testimony from leaders of the Chronic Pain Research Alliance (CPRA).


“This is an important step in addressing this staggering problem that imposes enormous and potentially avoidable costs on our nation.  Pain is a major driver of rising health care costs and there are some basic steps that can be taken to reduce costs and improve care,” said CPRA leaders. “We represent millions who are debilitated by chronic pain, and appreciate that the Senate HELP Committee will hear our concerns and examine methods of implementing long-overdue changes in pain research, treatment, education and patient care. We extend our gratitude to HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY) for calling this important hearing.”


The hearing, which is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. EST and will be simulcast at www.help.senate.gov, is expected to review the findings and recommendations of, as well as actions taken by the federal government in response to, the landmark 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research. This report, undertaken as a direct result of a bipartisan amendment approved by the HELP Committee, concluded that “there is a crisis in the impact of and response to pain in America… [and that] we have a moral imperative to address this crisis.”It includes a blueprint for implementing the committee’s recommendations, assigning tasks to federal agencies, private and public institutions, as well as patieDocument Linknt advocacy and medical professional organizations.


The hearing will feature testimony on behalf of the CPRA from Christin Veasley, a chronic pain sufferer and Executive Director of the National Vulvodynia Association, one of four organizations that lead the CPRA. William Maixner, D.D.S. Ph.D., Director of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Center for Neurosensory Disorders and a member of the CPRA’s Scientific Advisory Council, will also testify, along with Lawrence Tabak, D.D.S. Ph.D., Principal Deputy Director of the National Institutes of Health; Phillip Pizzo, M.D., Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine; and John Sarno, M.D., Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.


“The IOM report and today’s hearing give us renewed hope – hope that our country is listening to us, cares about our plight, and is ready to enact long-overdue change to help us regain some semblance of quality of life and return to contributing to society,” said Veasley.


In 2010, the Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women, led by the CPRA, released a groundbreaking white paper that documented, for the first time, the human and financial toll, as well as the neglect, dismissal and discrimination that women with chronic pain experience. “The IOM highlighted this disparity in its report and we are hopeful that the HELP Committee will do the same in today’s hearing,” says CPRA leaders. “Equity demands no less.”


For more information, please visit www.endwomenspain.org. To read the Campaign’s white paper, visit: www.endwomenspain.org/sites/default/files/WIP%202011%20Report%20FINAL.pdf.


About the Chronic Pain Research Alliance and Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women:

The Chronic Pain Research Alliance (CPRA), a collaborative effort led by the CFIDS Association of America, Endometriosis Association, National Vulvodynia Association and The TMJ Association, is dedicated to alleviating the significant human suffering cause by prevalent, neglected and poorly understood chronic pain conditions that frequently co-occur and disproportionately affect women, by advocating for, and supporting innovative collaborative scientific research on these disorders. These conditions, which affect at least 50 million American women at an annual cost of $80 billion, include vulvodynia, temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic headache and chronic fatigue syndrome. The CPRA also leads the Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women, an advocacy campaign fighting to end discrimination and improve care for women suffering from these chronic pain conditions. For additional information, please visit www.chronicpainresearch.organd www.endwomenspain.org.