As federal and state government agencies push to curb the nationwide opioid crisis—which killed 42,249 people in 2016—chronic pain patients are worried they may lose their prescriptions.
Last month, President Trump released an initiative to curb the opioid crisis in the U.S., calling for a reduction in "opioid prescription fills by one-third within three years." The number of total prescriptions dropped in the U.S. by four percent from 2015 to 2016.
A group met Saturday April 7 at the state capital building in Lansing to protest doctors halting opioid treatment for chronic pain patients. The rally was part of a nationwide effort by the Don't Punish Pain movement, which held events in 48 states, according to the group's Facebook page.
"Pain patients across the country have been dropped by doctors because of regulations placed two years ago by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]," said David Israel, who suffers from hydrocephalus and lost his opioid prescription.
The CDC instituted new guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain on March 15, 2016 due to major increases in opioid prescriptions and medication-related overdose deaths. Such deaths rose 10.6 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to a report from the CDC.
The report said the rise in overdoses is fueled by use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The chronic pain patients believe the federal government should be specifically targeting opioids used illicitly.
"They want to try to correct the addiction problems are in the country, but they didn't take into consideration the chronic pain community who depend on these pain medications just to get up in the mornings," said Karlyn Beavers, a chronic pain patient with Crohn's disease.
Attendees brought shoes to the event, symbolizing Michigan residents experiencing too much pain to attend. Beavers said a lot chronic pain patients only use opioids as a last resort treatment.
"They don't know what they're going to do if [the medication is taken away from them," she said.
From 2015 to 2016, total opioid prescriptions in the U.S. dropped from 226.8 million to 214.9 million.
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