Yesterday I read a notice from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that caused me to sit up, read it again, and then again. You can read it yourself, at https://www.hhs.gov/ash/advisory-committees/pain/index.html. These words, this concept in the making, gave me hope that efforts to end the drug crisis in our country are finally headed in a right direction.
Why? HHS is forming a new Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force and is seeking nominations. HHS has said it is looking for diversity in its Task Force membership, not just representation from large organizations. I read this as an incredible opportunity to get people who are knowledgeable, credentialed, experienced and not bound to organizational (read political) influence, leaving them free to engage in honest dialogue with others about solutions to the “Opioid Crisis” in our nation. It seems that there is potential in this Task Force for real solutions.
The Task Force will have the following responsibilities:
(1) Determining whether there are gaps or inconsistencies in pain management best practices among federal agencies;
(2) Proposing recommendations on addressing gaps or inconsistencies;
(3) Providing the public with an opportunity to comment on any proposed recommendations; and
(4) Developing a strategy for disseminating information about best practices.
HHS is not dragging their feet in this process, either. Nominations via email are currently being accepted at PainTaskForce@hhs.gov and must be received no later than close of business on Wednesday, September 27, 2017. Such a short time to decide who to nominate! To write a letter! Fortunately, I am well acquainted with the perfect candidate for this Task Force. He is so well qualified it only took a short time to prepare an email supporting his nomination, a copy of which follows:
TO: Acting Assistant Secretary: Don Wright, M.D., M.P.H., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
RE: Nomination of JAMES PATRICK MURPHY, MD, MMM, FASAM to the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force
Dear Secretary Wright:
It is an honor and privilege for me to nominate Dr. James P. Murphy to be a member of this very important task force. I have carefully read your notice on the web site laying out the qualities you are looking for in the nominations, and I can think of no one better suited for this committee. His patients benefit from his ability to see them holistically; to manage their pain to the point of returning productivity using effective modalities; and to carefully monitor opiate intake and effect when it is used. The community benefits from his knowledge and willingness to offer lectures and workshops for the media, for college students, and for relevant groups working with any approach to dealing with the present opioid crisis. The medical community has also benefitted from his lectures, from his teaching pre-med students, and from his leadership as President of the Greater Louisville Medical Society in 2014 and Chairman of the Board in 2015.
Dr. Murphy’s medical career has allowed for diverse experiences, e.g., military medicine, academic medicine, hospital-based practice, private practice, business management, patient advocacy, and “organized” medicine. His training, credentials, and affiliations illustrate the multifaceted perspective he can bring to the group. He would have no conflicts of interest, as he is not beholden to any organizations that could hamper an independent and honest contribution to the Task Force. For a more complete listing of his credentials and experience, please see his résumé [which may be downloaded from https://www.jamespatrickmurphymd.com] .
My own perspective is that of a former chronic pain patient, a former nurse, and a semi-retired sociology professor with one specialization in the sociology of medicine. As both a nurse and a college professor (as well as a Hospital Corpsman in the Navy Reserve for 6 years) I have dealt directly with the effects of substance abuse for more than 35 years. After all of my own experience, and working closely with Dr. Murphy in academic and clinical office settings for four years, I can say without hesitation that Dr. James P. Murphy is undoubtedly the most knowledgeable, effective, and dedicated Pain Medicine and Addiction Medicine Specialist this country has to offer. You will not find a better member for the task force, nor one who is willing to give more to find a reasonable solution of our nation’s opioid crisis.
Thank you for opening the door to nominations for this committee. I wish you and the Task Force all the success possible.
Marylee M. James, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor of Sociology, Bellarmine University, Louisville, Kentucky
UPDATE 9/8/17: HHS requested a statement from Dr. Murphy as to whether he would be willing to serve on this Task Force. He has responded “If selected, I will serve.” –MJames
To anyone who would also like to participate in nominating a candidate for this very important Task Force, please feel free to use the information above as well as your own resources to send an email to: PainTaskForce@hhs.gov . Our nation needs recommendations from this Task Force that are realistic, just, and effective. And I believe it will happen with the right people, and the right mix, doing the work. And I definitely believe that Dr. Murphy should be one of those Task Force Members!