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Here's a stunning statistic: more than 100 million Americans are living in chronic pain, according to the U.S. Institute of Medicine. Pain is the leading reason people go to the doctor, and it's estimated to cost the national economy more than $600 billion a year in medical care and lost productivity.
Pain is most often in the news when medications to treat it go awry, leading to our current epidemic of opiate overdoses. Painkillers were implicated in the recent heroin death of the actor Philip Seymore Hoffman, who reportedly slipped back into addiction because of a pain prescription.
But a new book by the nationally syndicated health columnist Judy Foreman argues that the main pain problem in this country is not overdoses or abuse — it's the vast numbers of people in pain who have trouble getting the medications they legitimately need to ease their suffering. It's called A Nation in Pain: Healing Our Biggest Health Problem, and Judy joins us to explain why she believes a failure to treat pain is "tantamount to torture."
Judy Foreman, nationally syndicated health columnist, columnist for The Boston Globe, and author of A Nation in Pain: Healing Our Biggest Health Problem.
This segment aired on February 17, 2014.