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    Mayo Clinic opioid expert appointed to serve on new pain management task force

Opioid tablets lying on a prescription form
ROCHESTER, Minn. – Halena Gazelka, M.D., chair, Mayo Clinic Opioid Stewardship Program, has been appointed by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to serve on the newly established Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force. Established by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, the task force will identify inconsistencies in pain management best practices among federal agencies and propose solutions to resolve these inconsistencies.

“The consequences of opioid and prescription drug abuse are felt acutely across our nation," says Dr. Gazelka, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist who practices pain medicine in Rochester. "For the first time in almost 20 years, life expectancy decreased for U.S. citizens, compared with citizens of other developed countries. And opioid overdoses contributed to the decline. I am honored to have the opportunity to serve at this task force and contribute to developing prescribing guidelines rooted in science and evidence-based practices for pain management.”

Dr. Halena Gazelka in a business dress suit, with her arms crossed and smiling in the Gonda Lobby

Dr. Gazelka has dedicated her career to pain and palliative medicine ─ both in patient care and research. She serves in multiple capacities that focus on opioid management, acute and chronic pain management, neuromodulation, intrathecal drug delivery systems, spine care, and cancer pain management. Dr. Gazelka chairs the Mayo Clinic Opioid Stewardship Program, a multidisciplinary team formed to achieve safe and consistent opioid prescribing across the organization.

“Mayo Clinic recognizes the imperative to meaningfully address the opioid crisis. This includes both establishing and implementing policy, and making changes in medical practice. We are proud that Dr. Gazelka will represent Mayo Clinic and share her expertise at this national level,” says John Noseworthy, M.D., president and CEO, Mayo Clinic.

The Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force will host its first meeting on May 30 in Washington, D.C.


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