Survey shines spotlight on treatment of pain sufferers by healthcare providers

GOLDEN, Colo. — A survey by the National Pain Foundation of more than 300 people who live with chronic pain is shedding light on how chronic pain sufferers are treated by their healthcare providers.  

The findings revealed that pain patients are uncomfortable when visiting their pharmacy. Fifty-two percent said they "are concerned that they will be treated like a drug addict by their pharmacist," with 29% expressing concern that they would "be embarrassed by their pharmacist."

"This comes as no surprise given the plethora of media attention on prescription pain medicine abuse, addiction and death," said Daniel Bennett, MD, chair of the National Pain Foundation. "The problem is that the vast majority of people who use pain medicine need those medicines, and they should not be treated any differently than someone fulfilling a prescription for an antibiotic or an antidepressant."

Almost 1-in-5 respondents (17%) reported that they were "treated poorly or very poorly" by their pharmacists.

Open comments from the survey are revealing as well:

  • "I have been degraded, humiliated, called a drug addict, told I take enough meds to kill an elephant."
  • "I have a wonderful team of doctors, but it took 10 years of being treated poorly before I was diagnosed."
  • "My doctor is more worried about the DEA than about treating me."
  • "Of all the doctors I've seen, only two heard me and understood. The rest assumed I was there for drugs."

To see all results from the survey, titled "I'm Treated Like A ...," click here.




- 7:07 PM
Barry Chitwood says

Not only am I a Pharmacist (since 1981), but, I am also a chronic pain patient (since 1996). My pain is caused by a combination of deteriorating disc disease (5 fused discs so far) and Ankylosing Spondylitis. I have to admit that before my years of pain began, I was sometimes dubious of some of the chronic pain patients I saw in the Pharmacy. However, I never voiced any doubt to the patients. I believe this would be unethical. I never really understood what it was like to be in pain 24 hours per day. I do now!!! To get to the point, I believe it would be a great help for Pharmacists if the physician would put, in bold letters, CHRONIC PAIN PATIENT on the left side of the prescription and to list the diagnosis for that particular patient. Now, as a Pharmacist and "a trained skeptic", I'm sure there are still people out there who "game" the system and would love to be designated chronic pain patients. However, I also believe most Physicians will eventually weed these people out. So, as a Pharmacist and a chronic pain patient, what I'm trying to say is; please, give the patient the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure this will be hard for some Pharmacists, but remember, some day you too could be a CHRONIC PAIN PATIENT!!!

- 11:06 AM
b.roberts says

Thank You Barry for standing up for Chronic Pain Pts. You hit it on the head that no one understands unless they suffer from this horrid disease. I suffer from Degenerative Disc Disease with fused discs also, Spinal Stenosis, Facet Syndrome, and Arachnoiditis, which came from an Epidural Injection, in which my Dura was punctured. I really like your idea of writing on the scripts, and will tell my Dr. about it on my next monthly visit. I do not mind my pharmacist knowing what my diagnosis is at all. As long as I am not denied these medications. I have been on the same dose for 8 yrs, and although they do not always work, I maintain the amount of meds I take. I do not enjoy taking these medications, or getting them filled monthly at the pharmacies. I feel like I have to explain what I have every time I go. I go to Sams Club at this time, but who knows when they will follow CVS and Walgreens, and avoid filling Gp's scripts. I cannot go to Pain Management anymore, there is nothing they can do for me, but these two stores will not accept my Dr's scripts, even after his office updated to the New Indiana Laws. I have been told by Sams that first come first serve, they are only getting a certain amount sent to the're pharmacies. Does not matter how many they order, they only get a set amount. My Question is, who controls the amount these stores can order"?

- 6:57 PM says

DSN believes in taking a stand for the rights of patients with chronic pain, especially helping ensure that they have access to the medications they need to go about their lives. We take that commitment to patient advocacy VERY seriously. Please check out our new microsite at We created it to be a destination for media, legislators, policy makers and others, to understand the challenges faced by patients who live in chronic pain. The patient stories are real and are meant to put a face on the other side of the prescription drug abuse problem in America -- that is, what happens when an honest, legitimate patient can't get access to their medications. DSN thinks that's beyond unfair -- it's downright cruel and it punishes patients rather than real criminals. Please check it out and let us know what you think... And thanks for reading Drug Store News! CHEERS, ROB EDER Editor in Chief Drug Store News

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