Integrative groups offer guidance for FDA on pain, opioids
July 25, 2017
by John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News and Reports Last spring, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) joined the chorus of agencies weighing in on pain treatment and opioid prescribing policy. At the time, I wrote a column for Integrative Practitioner, FDA pain draft promotes alternative medicine, offers chance for influence. Among the respondents seeking to influence the powerful agency were two policy-active organizations in the integrative health community: the interprofessional Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC) and the specialty-focused Acupuncture Now Foundation (ANF). Acupuncture Now Foundation The Acupuncture Now Foundation (ANF) offered its guidance via a 38-page white paper, Acupuncture in Pain Management: Strengths and Weaknesses of a Promising Non-Pharmacologic Therapy in the Age of the Opioid Epidemic. The co-authors are Matthew Bauer, LAc, president of the ANF, and John McDonald, PhD, the vice president of research for ANF. The first two pages are an executive summary leading to the following core recommendations:
- Guidelines for healthcare providers (HCPs) managing patients with pain should unequivocally recommend acupuncture as an evidence-based therapy for common pain conditions.
- HCPs should not let the concern over limits in insurance coverage for acupuncture services prevent them from recommending it.
- The existing paucity in the number and the current disproportionate distribution of acupuncture providers should be addressed to meet rising demand.
- Comparative cost effectiveness studies should be undertaken to help guide treatment protocols and determine where acupuncture is both most and least cost effective.
- Governmental and philanthropic financial support grants should be established to support unbiased research into integrating the most promising non-pharmacologic pain management therapies into the practice of mainstream healthcare. This research should include pragmatic clinical effectiveness and workforce capabilities studies and lead to the development of guidelines that HCPs could utilize to aid their decision-making with regard to those therapies.