by John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News and Reports

1The nation’s chiropractors have chosen to engage fully with the nation’s opioid debate. Last year, the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP) published a white paper, Chiropractic: A Safer Strategy Than Opioids. Now, F4CP, an umbrella not-for-profit that manages an extensive, multi-year communications initiative for the chiropractic field, is planning a no-holds-barred March 14 media event at the National Press Club to fully launch a national campaign,  Save Lives. Stop Opioid Abuse. Choose Chiropractic.

2The list of 13 presenters for the planned 75-minute event suggests a tightly orchestrated pitch. Included at the top is an academic medical doctor from New York University School of Medicine, Marc Siegel MD. Siegel has multiple media roles including at Fox News, Los Angeles Times and National Review Online. He is followed by Myra Christopher, the founder and director at the Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy (PAINS). Christopher is a pain wonk who served on the Institute of Medicine Committee that developed its 2011 pain blueprint, and on the development of the recent National Pain Strategy.

F4CP is also bringing in some research guns. One will be David Thomas, PhD, Deputy Director, Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Thomas is also part of the influential NIH Pain Consortium. He is scheduled to be followed by Linda Porter, PhD (pictured), Director, NIH’s Office of Pain Policy and co-chair of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC) Working Group. They will be joined by Wayne Jonas, MD, until recently the CEO of the Samueli Institute.

3To provide an even broader context, attendees will hear from an employer representative, Larry Boress, the president and CEO of the Midwest Business Group on Health. For the chiropractic profession’s purposes, Boress is a two-fer. He also serves as executive director of executive director, National Association of Worksite Health Centers. Providing the view of consumers will be Jan Chambers, President, National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association.

An additional, substantive draw to the event for media may be two new resources F4CP plans to roll out. One is a second white paper, not yet available, that is to be entitled, simply, “CHIROPRACTIC: Key to America’s Opioid Exit Strategy.” The organization also plans to release an “Opioid Toolkit 2.0” to go with the Toolkit 1.0 iteration already out. The profession will be represented by such leaders as Gerard Clum, DC and William Meeker, DC, MPH.

4The media event will take place the day prior to what will likely be the most significant conference of that profession in decades. The annual Association of Chiropractic Colleges Research Agenda Conference (ACC-RAC) is co-located with a gathering of the American Chiropractic Association and the World Federation of Chiropractic. Among invited speakers to the Washington D.C. event are Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan and Surgeon General Vivek Murphy, MD.

Comment: I recall when the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) celebrated the CDC’s draft Guidance on Opioid Prescribing for that draft’s explicit inclusion of chiropractic, along with acupuncture, among the recommended “non-pharmacologic” approaches. The ACA, along with many others, was shocked to see it disappear from explicit mention in the final version. As far as I can determine from three separate sources, the removal of chiropractic may have been linked not to the subject at hand but rather to antagonism from the vaccine-championing CDC to the portion of the chiropractic profession that doesn’t support the CDC’s schedule. (This, while likely impossible to ever confirm, is from “sources close to developments” rather than “alternative fact.”)

5Perhaps with this event, F4CP can help CDC and other decision-makers keep its eye on its business, rather than straying far afield – if this is what it did – to limit chiropractic’s role in the opioid crisis based on a subset of that profession’s views about vaccines. This for-us-or-against-us approach reflects the utter polarization in the nation’s capital. Far better when politics “made strange bedfellows” with collaborations and coalitions on an issue-to-issue basis. Organized medicine and healthcare policy makers must favor this approach and get on board with expanding the circle of improved and actively engaged non-pharmacologic approaches. Perhaps the briefing will help pry open more consideration of chiropractic’s role in resolving the crisis at hand. Meantime, I am curious what the NIH pair will say given that chiropractic was not included in a recent NIH-produced paper at Mayo Clinical Proceedings on complementary and integrative practices for pain care.

As a side note, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians is engaging a its own strategy to elevate its role in the crisis later in the spring with a one-day seminar across the Potomac on April 29, “Natural Approaches to Chronic Pain: Effective Alternatives to Opioids.”