Parker County Today March 2018 - Page 39

The Opioid Crisis: Potential Impact on Cancer Patients “There is nothing more important to me as a physician than your cancer treatment. I’ve been in practice for over two decades and have had the privilege of telling many patients that there is life beyond cancer. As president of The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, I want to lead by example, practicing a firm belief that all patients should receive the finest medical care available, with the same concern and compassion as a cherished member of the family.” Ray Page, D.O., Ph.D. President and Medical Oncologist The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders Unless you live under a rock, you should be aware through media reports over the last year that the United States has an “Opioid Crisis” where deaths attributed to opioid overdose have risen dramatically over the last few years. The reasons behind this are numerous and complex. They range from early and more frequent exposure of narcotics to our children, to easier access for children and close relatives to use opioids not prescribed to them. Furthermore, there can be a component of imprudent use of opioid prescriptions by physicians. However, with current electronic prescription monitoring the “pill mill” doctor hardly exists any more, yet doctors of many specialties are under heightened scrutiny by our boarding agencies on prescription habits. The problem goes beyond doctor prescribing of opioids. In fact, over the last 3 years physician opioid prescriptions have declined dramatically, while at the same time opioid deaths have risen exponentially!! The reason? The majority of deaths are caused from illegal heroin and IV fentanyl coming from Mexico and China!!! This is not a doctor problem!!! Regardless, there is a call out to all of our government agencies to “DO SOMETHING to fix the opioid problem.” What does that usually mean? More government regulations, whether they make sense or whether there could be significant unintended consequences – particularly for patients that truly need opioids for pain relief – such as cancer patients. So, the FDA has proposed a laundry list of ways they think they can better control opioids and they requested comments from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). My colleague, Dr. Barbara McAneny (incoming President of the AMA) and I gave written comments to the FDA for ASCO. In the first week of February, representing ASCO, I went to the FDA in Washington, D.C. and got to meet directly with the FDA Opioid Crisis Committee. Along with 4 other fellow oncologists from Indiana, Ohio, California, and Hawaii, we gave strong recommendations for improving regulation, oversight, and education while still protecting patients that truly need opioids for pain control. We explained to the FDA that we want to assure that cancer patients and any person towards the end of life have [[[X\YX\[YYZ\[\ܜ[\XX[ݚY[[X]]H\KY[H\[Y[H[[Ž MMNML ܈ۛ[H]˝X[\ B\ܝ\X\ݚYYNX\[ܙHX][\\H\Y\܈ۜ[]H\XX[X]H[\XYۛ\۝X\] MˍNM ˂]\HܙX]ۛ܈܈YH]HHܝ[]H\\[B[\\[X\[\]Y[˂HYHܙX]\\[ۈX]Z\YYX\ˈH^XBH[]]H\و]Y[][ۜY\[[YXY[\ܚ\[ۈ[Z]YX][ۋܘYH[\[ [[XۚX\ܝ[]H[Y]HH[]HX[ۜ[XH܂\[\]Y[\]Z\[[Y܈Z[[YY