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I-Team: Doctors, experts, and patients discuss other side of opioid epidemic at conference

LAS VEGAS - If you or a loved one recently had a prescription for pain medicine to fill, you may have had to jump through some hoops to get your hands on those pills.   Millions of chronic pain patients, already living in agony because of disease or injuries, now live in fear that their medicine will be taken away because they've been stigmatized as drug addicts. This is an issue the I-Team has been covering for months now. 

The I-Team has been shedding light on the fact that pain patients, people who legitimately need pain medicine need a voice. At a conference at UNLV on Friday, people on the front lines discussed the issue. 

"We sort of got into this mess because there was a public policy push towards opiates," said Dr. Jeremy Lipshutz, Monos Health. "Now we're getting out of this mess and into a whole new mess because there's a public policy push against opiates." 

The message at the conference held at UNLV was there's more to the proclaimed opioid epidemic, which is exactly what the I-Team's special in December: The Other Side of Opioids focused on.

During the special, doctors shared fears about being targeted by law enforcement for prescribing pain medication.  Patients who need those meds say it was a challenge just to get the meds.

The I-Team's George Knapp was a panelist at Friday's conference.

"We discuss chronic pain and addiction; please don't leave out chronic pain patients because there are millions of them out there," Knapp said. "You've got some of them in your family."

Doctor David Orentlicher organized the conference.

"We had a history of overprescribing, but we don't want to swing too far back the other way and withhold from people who really need these medications.  It's a double-edged sword," Dr. Orentlicher said.

Pain patients may finally be getting the attention they deserve.

You can watch more of the I-Team's coverage on the issue here.


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