New Podcast Discusses Current Issues Involving Pain and Politics

This article, in a slightly edited form, first appeared on Pain News Network on July 11, 2020.


Not long ago, I was invited to support the Center For Effective Regulatory Policy & Safe Access (CERPSA). The 501c3 nonprofit was founded by Stephen J. Ziegler, Ph.D., J.D.

CERPSA’s goal is to reduce the suffering that pain patients experience when their access to prescription medication is limited. At that time, I felt excited to be a part of the activities the Center would undertake in pursuit of improving the lives of people with pain, and I was thrilled to learn about CERPSA’s latest project.

CERPSA Produces the New “Pain Politics” Podcast

There is probably no topic that has been more politicized and affects more people than pain. Producer and commentator Dr. Ziegler is a man with a mission. He recently launched a podcast, “Pain Politics.”

Each episode of “Pain Politics” tells stories about how politics informs, or interferes with, pain relief. Dr. Ziegler defines politics as “who gets what, when, and how.” Politics are often associated with government actors, but the term can more broadly include how a pharmacy chain implements policies on filling prescriptions, or how an insurance company imposes dose limits of medication for a patient following surgery.

Dr. Steven J. Ziegler’s Mission

Dr. Ziegler is an advocate for people in pain. A Purdue University professor emeritus, Dr. Ziegler has also worked as a lawyer, police officer, detective, DEA agent, and humorist.

Stephen J. Ziegler, Ph.D., J.D.

I don’t know how he puts these experiences together, but I’m grateful that he is willing and able to leverage all of his skills and knowledge in a remarkable way to produce entertaining and informative podcasts.

There is an unlimited potential audience for the podcast, because pain cuts across all demographics and does not discriminate. The general public will find the podcasts enlightening and timely. The politically charged topics Dr. Ziegler discusses with his guests relate either directly or indirectly to people in pain.

An example of someone who may be interested in “Pain Politics” would be a stay-at-home mom who suffers from chronic, long-term pain stemming from an automobile accident. She may feel isolated, and she may have struggled with insurance companies and healthcare providers in an effort to find relief. A veteran who faces the stigma of needing pain medication to treat injuries he received during a tour of duty would be another example, as would an out-of-work school bus driver whose health insurance has disappeared due to the pandemic.

The first episode — Time for People in Pain to Make Noise — is an overview of the podcast’s purpose, and how politics play an enormous role in pain treatment, drug policy, and human suffering.

In the second episode, Dr. Ziegler tells the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to “get its head out of its app.” This is a theme that will resonate with most people who have been struggling with the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. Dr. Ziegler pulls no punches as he describes how the CDC has designed a data system that excludes the diagnosis of pain. He believes this, along with other frustrating CDC policies, were politically inspired.

Tune Into “Pain Politics” for Relevant Information

Future episodes of “Pain Politics” will involve inequality and racism in pain, economics in medicine and pain, universal healthcare, how the DEA and other government agencies may overstep their roles in prosecuting people who treat pain, the CDC’s loss of ethical guardrails, national pain meetings that are politically-driven and not helpful to patients, and the American Medical Association (AMA’s) letter to the CDC asking the agency to rewrite the opioid guidelines. Dr. Ziegler will invite guests to appear on his podcasts as he covers these and other areas.

I hope you’ll tune in via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or your favorite way to listen. You’ll enjoy Dr. Ziegler’s style, and benefit from the information he and his guests provide. As a member of the CERPSA Board of Directors, I’m pleased to support his efforts.

Here is a link to the podcast:


Lynn R. Webster, MD, is a vice president of scientific affairs for PRA Health Sciences and consults with the pharmaceutical industry. He is author of the award-winning book, The Painful Truth, and co-producer of the documentary,It Hurts Until You Die.” Opinions expressed here are those of the author alone and do not reflect the views or policy of PRA Health Sciences.

You can find him on Twitter: @LynnRWebsterMD.


  1. Toni Jacobs on July 12, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    Just wanted to say thank you for such informative information ! As a chronic pain sufferer after many years of Fentanyl patches – made the decision to wean myself off because of the stigma and constant interrogations by the prescribing Dr and pharmacy .. I am now off ALL medication not because I have no pain , but because the trauma from trying to continue with pain meds became so difficult and uncomfortable that I couldn’t stand that burden any longer .
    I am grateful that your information reminds me that it’s not me ….. but that I’m ok in my desire to want pain relief and pain management .

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