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Opioid Abuse Backlash Could Hurt Sickle Cell Patients’ Medication Needs, Some Fear

With drug overdoses now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., efforts are underway in many states to limit abuse and access to prescription opioids — steps that, some say, could cause unnecessary suffering among sickle cell disease (SCD) patients who rely on these medications to treat their symptoms.

“I’m seeing more and more patients calling me or coming in and saying they’re in so much pain and have been taken off the narcotics they have been receiving for years,” said Judy Anderson, executive director of the Sickle Cell Association in Norfolk, Virginia, an education and advocacy organization.