Thursday, April 21, 2011
As it's been noted on the blog before, it's safe to say we are in the midst of a transition towards increasing restrictions on our ability to prescribe opioids to our patients,
although the nature of these restrictions are really just emerging**. All of this is, of course, in response to the horrifying epidemic of prescription opioid abuse - see this recent New York Times piece for a bone-chilling description of prescription opioid abuse in Appalachia.
**Yes, I actually wrote those words last night. Subsequently my inbox gets flooded with notifications that the FDA has announced its long-awaited REMS program for long-acting opioids...kind of. Press-release here, which discusses, in broad-strokes, a multi-agency strategy (beyond REMS) to help stem the epidemic. We are told the key elements of the strategy will be:
- expansion of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs
- recommending convenient and environmentally responsible ways to remove unused medications from homes
- supporting education for patients and health care providers
- reducing the number of “pill mills” and doctor-shopping through law enforcement
I'd recommend reading Stew Leavitt's analysis for a more knowledgeable discussion of the announcement.
Photo from the FDA's press-release.