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Saturday, May 10, 2008

American Pain Society Meeting

I attended the first two days of the American Pain Society Annual Scientific Meeting in Tampa, Florida. It is a big affair, over 1300 people. I was quite impressed by the quality of the speakers--not just the the content of the presentations, but the speakers were, for the most part, good presenters.

The most prevalent recurring theme in the clinically oriented (as opposed to the basic science) presentations was the issue of prescription opioid abuse. It got a bit wearisome after awhile, perhaps because I presented on the same topic at the Nursing SIG session! Kinda reminded me of a recent cautionary comment by Kathy Foley at another meeting that pain management is being eclipsed by risk management. The most controversial session, on the Washington State opioid guidelines (see previous mention), was well managed and avoided descending into a shoving or shouting match. I'm still left unconvinced that the identified problem (an increase in opioid-related deaths in workman's comp patients) will be solved with the institution of the guidelines. They have been identified as a pilot and an educational endeavor, but one person from the audience said that he had been denied insurance payment for a patient on opioid doses greater than 120 mg unless additional justification was provided (perhaps an inevitable and predictable but unintended consequence). The "education" is being provided by the medical director for the department that handles workman's comp. He was obviously well-meaning and very concerned about safety issues, but he is not a pain specialist, and as far as I could tell, had no special training or experience in pain management.
The exhibit hall also had it's share of substance abuse-related products and give-aways. There were several urine toxicology companies there and multiple free "risk-reduction" education pieces, all sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.

There was an entire session (which I did not attend) on new tamper-resistant formulations of opioids.

Other new products and products in clinical trails of interest to this readership: Subcutaneous methylnaltrexone (Relistor) for opioid bowel dysfunction (see previous post); an oral form is just entering phase 2 trials; a pegylated oral form of naloxone is just entering human trials; an oxycodone-morphine combination tablet has just completed its first phase 3 trial; a sustained-release hydrocodone-acetaminophen tablet has completed a phase 3 trial; a cannabinoid is approaching clinical trials. Most of you are probably aware that there are new dosage strengths of OxyContin (15, 30, & 60 mg), and that all of the generic CR oxycodone products are off the market. There are also new dosage strengths of oxymorphone ER (Opana ER; 7.5, 15, & 30 mg).

There was a lot of exciting new basic science regarding pathways, receptors, neurotransmitters, and other cool stuff that was mostly over my head, but by implication provided new therapeutic targets.

One of the most interesting sessions was on rational approaches to multidrug treatment of neuropathic pain. It's all about patient assessment and pharmacokinetics.

On to the nursing (American Society for Pain Management Nursing) pain meeting in the fall!

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