HARTFORD — The Board of Physicians administering the state’s medical-marijuana program delayed a vote Wednesday on expanding patient eligibility to include an ailment called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
But after hearing testimony from three women who suffer from what is commonly called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, three of the four-member panel seemed to favor adding the disease to the list of 17 approved afflictions, when they meet later this month for a final vote.
“It’s hard living in pain for that long,” said Michele DiPietro of Farmington, now in her early 20s, describing the aftermath of a soccer injury in sixth grade that steadily worsened with pain spreading from a foot to throughout her body, with associated tremors and nausea. “If it can help at, all I’m willing to try it.”
“I beg you guys to pass this,” said Joy Lynne Mauro, 55 of Colchester, whose symptoms were first triggered by a fall that damaged nerves in her right elbow, then worsened after a series of surgeries. Dr. Jonathan Kost, a member of the board, which reviews petitions for possible inclusion in the program, said Mauro is a patient of his and her story is typical. “We see multiple, multiple patients every day,” said Kost, who heads a 10-physician pain-management practice in West Hartford.
The disease, which is diagnosed in about 50,000 patients annually throughout the nation, is described as a progressive neuroinflammatory disorder, often found in adult women but sometimes in children. It commonly follows injuries including fractures, sprains and surgeries, with symptoms that include pain, swelling and skin that is hypersensitive to the touch.
Dr. Karen S. Devassy told the board that she had to retire from her suburban Hartford internal-medicine practice because the pain and affects of her numerous medications made it impossible to work. “I hate opioids, but I am on them,” she said, hoping that medical marijuana could help reduce her pain by 10-to-15 percent. “As a physician I believe we need to have a balance between compassion and scientific advancements,” she said. “We need to help people like me. I’m not suicidal, but I do think I would like an early death.”
Board member Dr. Deepak Cyril D’Souza, professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine – who has voted against most of …Read More