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Medical Groups Join AMA Task Force to Fight Prescription Painkiller Abuse

Experts offer resources on prescription-drug monitoring programs, safe prescribing

It has been estimated that 44 people die every day from an overdose of a prescription painkiller in the U.S., with many more becoming addicted.

Recognizing the urgency of this epidemic and the effect it has on patients across the country, the American Medical Association (AMA) Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse has released the first of several national recommendations to address this growing epidemic.

Consisting of 27 physician organizations, the task force was formed in 2014 to identify best practices to combat opioid abuse and to quickly implement these practices in offices across the U.S.

The task force will initially focus on urging physicians to register for and use state-based prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) as part of their decision-making process when considering treatment options.

The new initiative also seeks to significantly enhance physicians’ education on safe, effective, and evidence-based prescribing with an online source that offers information on PDMPs, the risks and benefits of prescribing opioids, managing pain, treating substance use disorders, and overdose prevention.

Many states have already implemented PDMPs, which allow primary care providers to access their patient’s fill history of controlled medications, including prescription opioids and benzodiazepines.

When PDMPs are fully funded, contain relevant clinical information, and are available at the point of care, they have been shown to be effective tools for helping physicians identify patients who may be misusing opioids, and to implement treatment strategies, including referral for those in need of further care, according to the AMA.

The task force is working on other efforts, including providing prescribers with evidence-based education and training to enhance safe prescribing for patients who need opioid pain relievers. Moreover, the group is looking to improve efforts to provide comprehensive pain care, including the use of ancillary strategies, so that patients with pain needs will seek that care without feeling stigmatization, Rich said.

The task force also is examining how to best improve the diagnosis of substance use disorder and to improve access to evidence-based treatment for those patients. Finally, the group is promoting expanded use of naloxone for patients who are at risk of overdose from opioids, including the provision of bystander-administered naloxone, which is now available in certain states.

Source: AAFP; July 29, 2015.

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