Patients who rely on prescription opioids to manage chronic pain are raising fresh concerns about a proposal aimed at tackling the overdose epidemic.
A bipartisan push to raise registration fees on drug companies to fund treatment and implement new policies aimed at preventing addiction is moving through the Legislature at breakneck speed, with floor votes expected within weeks.
Advocate Cara Schulz is worried that the changes will lead to higher costs and restricted access for patients in need. Prescription pain medication allowed her to function, and run for Burnsville City Council, after her stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis.
“I want us to work on ways we can manage addiction, I want people to not be addicted, period. But we can’t say we are going to fix addiction by hurting people who are not addicts and who are just patients trying to be treated by their doctors,” said Schulz, who is in remission.
The real focus, she said, should be on curbing use of fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids, not prescription medication. At the very least, Schulz wants more exceptions for chronic pain patients and community representation on an advisory task force.
“The method that they’re taking to address this problem puts pain patients and cancer patients squarely in the cross hairs,” she said.