Pain Advocacy Group Closes, Weighs Future of Journal of Pain

Nancy Grover

Chicago, IL (WorkersCompensation.com) – The nation’s opioid epidemic is at least partially blamed for the demise of the American Pain Society. The advocacy group recently announced it was closing its doors.

“We write to inform you that upon conclusion of the membership vote, 93 percdent of voting members are in favor of proceeding with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case,” the organization said in a letter to members and posted on its website June 28. “Today APS followed through with the approved course of action and commenced a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois.”

The 42-year-old organization, which publishes the Journal of Pain, blamed failing financial health, which it attributed to litigation costs in opioid-related suits, along with declining membership, lower sponsorship revenues and reduced meeting attendance.

Recent lawsuits have included the APS as a defendant against charges its policies helped drive the national opioid crisis.

In testimony during the ongoing trial against Johnson & Johnson, the APS was brought up by one expert witness as a major driver of the epidemic. Andrew Kolody said the APS and American Academy of Pain Management’s release of a 1996 paper “blew a hole” through the dam of conservative prescribing practices that doctors had adhered to for more than a century. The paper, he said, promoted the idea that pain is often managed inadequately despite the availability of safe and effective treatments.

Last year, former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, released a report saying the ASP was among physician and patient advocacy groups that accepted money from opioid manufacturers.

But the APS said it has been an advocate for increased investment in research.

“APS has long supported the practice of multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to pain science, prevention, and treatment,” the organization said in its statement. “The Society has been a major promoter of such research, advocating for optimal models of care, and providing professional and public education.”

Among its accomplishments during its 42-uear history cited were

  • Educated primary care physicians on the science of pain and the need to incorporate nonpharmacological and opioid alternatives into comprehensive treatment plans
  • Awarded, recognized, and promoted hospitals and community-based health centers which are committed to interdisciplinary care
  • Supported the careers of young pain scientists and clinicians interested in improving the management of pain through evidence-based multidisciplinary approaches by funding starter grants for 50 early-career professionals, who collectively have published over 1,000 papers and have received 96 government grants totaling almost $105 million for research on better care.

“We are proud of all of our accomplishments and thankful for your contributions and efforts to further the mission of the Society and improve the human condition. We hope you continue to conduct research and support organizations that have a vision of a world where safe and effective pain treatment is available for all,” the statement said.

One remaining question is what will happen to the Journal of Pain, which the APS publishes. A spokesman said no decisions have been made as to its future.

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