Congress has overwhelmingly passed the SUPPORT Act (HR 6), and the President is expected to sign the bill into law in a signing ceremony on October 24th. The massive 660-page bill is the second piece of sweeping legislation to pass in two years related to the opioid overdose and misuse epidemics, the first being the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA). While the legislation’s primary focus is on substance use disorder treatment and prevention, there is also some focus on comprehensive integrative pain management. In part:
- Section 1010 directs the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to issue guidance documents to States regarding mandatory and optional items and services that may be provided under a State plan for non-opioid treatment and management of pain, including, but not limited to, evidence-based, non-opioid pharmacological therapies and non-pharmacological therapies.
- Section 6086 requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit a report to Congress containing options for revising payment to providers and suppliers of services and coverage related to the use of multi-disciplinary, evidence-based, non-opioid treatments for acute and chronic pain management for individuals entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B of title XVIII of the Social Security Act.
The Food and Drug Administration recently released an updated version of their Opioid Analgesic Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (Opioid REMS). Unlike previous iterations of the Opioid REMS, the new strategy stresses the need to utilize comprehensive integrative pain management as a part of a well-rounded treatment plan. In part, the strategy states that health care providers (HCPs) treating patients with pain should:
- Be knowledgeable about the range of therapeutic options for managing pain, including nonpharmacologic approaches and pharmacologic (non-opioid and opioid analgesics) therapies, upon completion of educational activities related to the Opioid REMS.
- Attempt to overcome potential barriers when managing patients with pharmacologic and/or nonpharmacologic treatment options, such as lack of insurance coverage or inadequate availability of certain HCPs.
- Be knowledgeable about the range of treatment options available, the types of pain that may be responsive to those options, and when they should be used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management.
The second meeting of the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force (Task Force) was held September 25th-26th in Washington, D.C. The Task Force considered public comment, deliberated, and voted on the draft Task Force recommendations for acute and chronic pain management. The draft recommendations are expected to be released to the public near the end of October or the beginning of November, at which time a 90-day public comment period will commence.
The National Institutes of Health has released several Funding Opportunity Announcements specific to pain research as part of the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative. Funding is available for research related to:
- Analytical and/or Clinical Validation of a Candidate Biomarker for Pain
- Discovery and Validation of Novel Targets for Safe and Effective Pain Treatment
- Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions
A complete list of funding opportunities and due dates can be found here.
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The SUPPORT Act was signed into law on October 24, 2018.