In 1980 Penney Cowan founded and is CEO(retired) of the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) and the co-founder of the World Patients Alliance. Ms. Cowan is a recognized speaker advocating a multi-disciplinary approach to pain management. She has been an outspoken advocate and consumer representative for pain issues, contributed to numerous books, videos and Websites, She has consulted on the development of several pain management programs, issues and received numerous awards from organizations, such as the Institute for Public Service, American Pain Society, and American Academy of Pain Medicine.
She has served as Consumer Representative for the FDA/CDER Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee (AADPAC); Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC) of the National Institute of Health; and Co-chair of the National Pain Strategies Public Education and Communication Working Group, part of the IPRCC. She was elected as a Board Member of the International Alliance of Patient Organizations and was Chair from 2018 to 2019. Most recently she is a co-founder and secretary of the World Patients Alliance, an international patient organization.
She successfully established September as Pain Awareness Month in 2002 with her Partners for Understanding Pain campaign, which raised awareness about the need to better understand, assess, and treat pain. Ms. Cowan is the author of Patient or Person, Living with Chronic Pain. She has also written manuals and materials used by the American Chronic Pain Association.