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Getting Your Pain Meds: Miss. Gets a "B" Rating from the Cancer Society

pain pill bottle
Chris Davis

JACKSON, Miss.–If you have cancer or know somebody who does, you know that pain medication is vital. Your state gets a “B” rating this year from the American Cancer Society, when it comes to making sure you have access to those drugs.

“If you’re in pain, everything changes: your ability to sleep, work, your ability to have relationships with family and friends,” said David Woodmansee, associate director of state and local campaigns for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

A report released this week by the Cancer Society, details progress in state policies to improve pain management and patient care, giving Mississippi a “B” in its pain management policies.  The report assigns each state a letter grade from “A’ to “F’, based on whether state pain policies enhance access to pain care, including the use of pain medications, and minimizes potential treatment barriers.

The report, Achieving Balance in State Pain Policy: A Progress Report Card (CY 2013), is prepared by the University of Wisconsin Pain & Policy Studies Group (PPSG), and jointly funded by the American Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and the LIVESTRONG Foundation.

Woodmansee said making sure cancer patients have access to their meds, unicumbered, is necessary, but he does recognize that one of Mississippi’s biggest drug problems in with prescription pills.

“Obviously there’s a problem with abuse, but what we ask is that cancer patients not be treated like criminals. They’re using these drugs in a very legitimate and necessary way.”

Mississippi moved up to a “B” from a “C+”. Woodmansee said there are volunteers and representatives from the American Cancer Society in the state now preparing for the next legislative session.

“While we certainly applaud the fact that we moved up, we’re certainly talking about what we’re gonna do in the coming legislative session, to get to a ‘B+’ and maybe even an ‘A’.”

He said he’s not aware of any instances in Mississippi where any cancer patient has been denied a legitimate prescription, although there have been cases like that in Florida.

More info from an ACS press release:

The report found that 24 states changed or adopted new policies to improve access to effective pain management between 2012 and 2013. The policy improvement was largely a result of state health care regulatory boards adopting policies to encourage appropriate pain management, and state legislatures or regulatory agencies repealing restrictive or ambiguous policy language. 15 states received the top rating, an ‘A’ grade, up from 13 in 2012. 48 states now have a grade above the average (‘C’), compared to 44 states in 2006, but more can be done to ensure patients have access to pain medications and receive effective pain treatment.

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