Few would argue the need for a solution to end the drug abuse and addiction that ravage our communities. But as lawmakers consider necessary legislative action, they must not forget their constituents with legitimate pain management needs. In fact, many of us gathered in September for the “Don’t Punish Pain” rally in St. Paul to voice our concern over legislation and regulations that target legal opioid medications.
More than 100 million people across the nation suffer from painful chronic conditions, like fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and arthritis. For these patients that live in agony, getting out of bed, staying productive in the workforce and living comfortably would not be possible without pain medications. And sometimes, prescription opioids are the only effective option. Government agencies have unfortunately looked past our needs, leading to dangerous overcorrections to the epidemic.
Another proposal considered by legislators right here in Minnesota could make matters even worse. Last session, the state legislature proposed a tax on all opioid distribution, a measure that could invite even more legitimate drug shortages and higher costs to already strained healthcare patients.
Our lawmakers must recognize that patients with chronic pain cannot and should not be penalized for the opioid crisis. We depend on reliable medication and the vast majority of opioids distributed are used for legitimate patients. I hope our calls from the rally will be effective, and lawmakers will consider our needs moving forward.
This letter has been lightly edited for clarity and style.
Malcolm Stuart is in his 4th year at Macalaster College, majoring in creative writing.