California Medical Association Pain Management, Prescription Drug Safety during Pain Awareness Month

September 08, 2016

California Medical Association

California Medical Association highlights responsible pain management, prescription drug safety during Pain Awareness Month

The California Medical Association (CMA) is raising awareness on the issue of pain and its proper management this September in recognition of National Pain Awareness Month. Chronic pain — i.e. pain that persists for a protracted period of time — impacts approximately 100 million adults in America and costs the country up to $635 billion annually in lost productivity and treatment, according to a 2011 Institute of Medicine report.

CMA has developed and compiled resources to help further inform physicians and educate the public on the impacts of pain, as well as responsible and effective management.

“Every day, millions of Americans suffer from the debilitating effects of pain, and it’s up to everyone in the health care system to ensure patients have the support and education necessary to manage it appropriately,” said CMA President Steve Larson, M.D., MPH. “California’s physicians remain committed to on-going education, guidelines that treat patients as individuals, data collection and treatment alternatives to minimize the misuse of prescription drugs while ensuring access for legitimate use.”

CMA has taken several steps to educate physicians and the general public on pain relief and the safe use of prescriptions, including opioid prescribing. The organization:

Released a white paper in 2013 titled “Opioid Analgesics in California: Relieving Pain, Preventing Misuse, Finding Balance” that outlined policy recommendations on how to use opioid medications safely and effectively to relieve pain, while simultaneously reducing the risk of prescription medication misuse, abuse and overdose;

Convened an expert physician panel to review current literature, existing clinical guidelines and expert opinion, leading to the 2014 white paper titled “Prescribing Opioids: Care Amid Controversy.” The paper addressed a variety of topics related to pain management, but focused on the use of opioid analgesics to treat chronic pain;

Collaborated with the Medical Board of California (MBC) in 2014 to develop the MBC’s safe prescribing guidelines titled, “Guidelines for Prescribing Controlled Substances for Pain.”

Supported SB 809 (DeSaulnier, 2013), which increased physician licensing fees to fund CURES, California’s prescription drug monitoring program. Since the CURES 2.0 launch in January 2016, CMA has provided significant member support to assist physicians in navigating the new enrollment process;

Supported National Drug Take Back Day efforts with patient education materials; and

Encouraged efforts to increase access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.

CMA also announced an updated online resource center newly open to the public, which lists training and education opportunities for physicians, prescribing guidelines and related webinars. For more information, visit

The California Medical Association represents the state's physicians with more than 41,000 members in all modes of practice and specialties. CMA is dedicated to the health of all patients in California. For more information, please visit, and follow CMA on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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