On June 2, 2021, Rhode Island's Governor Dan McKee signed Bill 384 into law. A copy of the bill can also be found here. Greg Amore, Claudia Merandi's local Representative, fought hard for this bill to pass which protects intractable pain patients from the 2016 CDC Opioid Guidelines. Recently, in March 2022, Arizona also passed legislation that was based on this bill from Rhode Island. That has been Claudia's hope for years, that she could pass a bill in Rhode Island that would trickle down into other states. Practical Pain Management covered this story.
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"STATE HOUSE – Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) and Sen. Valarie J. Lawson’s (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) legislation (2021-H 5247A / 2021-S 0384A) that would exclude chronic intractable pain from the definition of “acute pain management” for the purposes of prescribing opioid medication was passed by the General Assembly tonight. Representative Amore and Senator Lawson introduced the legislation at the behest of Claudia Merandi, an East Providence resident, who is also the founder of “Don’t Punish Pain,” a Rhode Island patient-advocacy organization for those suffering from chronic intractable pain. Chronic intractable pain is defined as pain that is excruciating, constant, incurable, and of such severity that it dominates virtually every conscious moment. It also produces mental and physical debilitation and may produce a desire to commit suicide for the sole purpose of stopping the pain. The bill calls for new guidelines for the treatment of chronic intractable pain be based upon the consideration of the individualized needs of patients suffering from chronic intractable pain. The legislation acknowledges that every patient and their needs is different, especially those suffering from chronic pain. Gov. McKee signed my bill into law June 2021"
When it passed, Claudia Merandi posted this on the Don't Punish Pain Rally Facebook page:
"It's been a long four years but we did it. Thank you Gregg Amore Valarie Lawson John J. Tassoni Jr. We did it, mom. We did it. Rep. Amore and Sen. Lawson’s legislation that excludes chronic intractable pain from medication prescribing guidelines passed by the General Assembly.
“As we have witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic severely exacerbate our state’s opioid abuse crisis, we must make sure that our public policy in regard to addressing the opioid crisis does not have the unintended consequence of hurting patients who are trying to manage chronic pain. These patients don't struggle with addiction, they are suffering with pain associated with cancer, palliative care, and in many cases, chronic intractable pain. We need to let physicians determine how best to manage their patients’ pain."
“There is no denying that we are still grappling with the severity of the opioid crisis and the pandemic has only made this matter worse, but we also cannot forget that to some, this medication allows them to function in their daily lives due to extreme chronic pain. This bill allows our doctors to treat their patients suffering from chronic pain how they best see fit and provides these patients with the pain relief that they so desperately need."