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NASEM issues major report on pain management and opioid use

July 21, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Drug Prescribing/Dispensing Public Health 

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) issued a report last week, "Pain Management and the Opioid Epidemic: Balancing Societal and Individual Benefits and Risks of Prescription Opioid Use," detailing the dual public health challenges of undertreated pain and opioid use disorder. The report, requested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), highlights actions health care professionals and government agencies could take to stem the prevalence of opioid misuse without denying access to opioids for patients suffering from pain.

The 18-member committee that worked over a year on the report recommended actions that include expanding access to treatment for opioid use disorder, weighing societal impacts in opioid-related regulatory decisions and investing in research to better understand the nature of pain and development of treatment alternatives.

The report also urged public health agencies to work toward universal access to evidence-based interventions for pain management and substance abuse, including comprehensive pain management treatment programs and full coverage of medications approved to treat opioid use disorder.

“This plan aims to help the millions of people who suffer from chronic pain while reducing unnecessary opioid prescribing,” said committee chair Richard J. Bonnie, Harrison Foundation Professor of Medicine and Law and director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “We also wanted to convey a clear message about the magnitude of the challenge. This epidemic took nearly two decades to develop, and it will take years to unravel.”

The committee also recommended that the FDA develop a systems approach for opioid approval decisions that incorporates the public health consequences into its existing risk-benefit model.

Download the report here.

For more information about opioid safety, see the California Medical Association'ssafe prescribing resource page.

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