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Letter: Two sides to opioid epidemic

To the editor:

The opioid epidemic in Minnesota has rightfully stirred policy reactions from legislators and government agencies. But sadly, many with severe injuries, rare diseases, chronic and intractable pain have been overlooked in the pursuit of a solution.

Prescription opioids administered by trusted doctors and pharmacists are important for those suffering with pain, and policies that restrict access to these medically necessary treatments seriously endanger their livelihood and are equating to suicides in the pain community.

Thankfully, these patients are not alone in their fight. At the "Don't Punish Pain" rally on Sept. 18 at the state capitol, I witnessed an impassioned group of individuals who advocated for those who truly need prescription opioids to treat pain.

I am one of them advocating, as having more than one, rare incurable disease with extreme pain, I am negatively impacted due to legislative efforts to combat crisis; which did not take into consideration, the tens of thousands of Minnesota residents who have exhausted all options and are prescribed medication as a last resort; in combination with other therapies. The guidelines are being misinterpreted as well, which is making it extremely difficult for people to remain on their treatment plan which provided more function, ability to work and care for family, have less pain, participate in life, volunteer and not be bedbound. We need balance in this fight and that is why we rally; to advocate for both sides of this and try to ensure neither falls through the cracks and suffers needlessly.

Organizers of the event highlighted the already dangerous shortages of opioid medication in hospitals and pharmacies caused by recent government regulation and guidelines. If there are more reduction in quotas, the already dangerous shortages will only get worse and patients will suffer even more. And while we all agree it's important to regulate this potentially dangerous drug, it's also vital to remember the very legitimate use of prescription opioids not only in Minnesota, but throughout our nation.

Another Don't Punish Pain Rally is scheduled in Minnesota on Jan. 29, 2019, but there are no confirmed venues or times. Visit www.dontpunishpainrally.com to learn more and get involved.

Cammie LaValle

Farmington

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