This week (19-25 August) marks the ninth annual Be Medicinewise Week, an awareness campaign that the National Prescribing Service (NPS) Medicinewise run each year to highlight the quality use of medications. This year the focus is on knowing how to communicate and learn about medicines to get the most out of them - safely.
Australia’s pain burden is a burgeoning social and economic issue, increasing in prevalence as the population ages and chronic conditions rise. Medicines, especially analgesics, are an important part of the pain management tool kit. As many people living with chronic pain opt to self-medicate their condition, it is vital that they are able to understand their medication and the risks associated with it.
Better understanding of both quality use of medicines and best practice pain management, treatment and support is vital for both prescribers and consumers.
Managing the rising dependence, accidental overdose, hospitalisations and death among opioid users cannot be resolved without empowering the people at the heart of this issue: people living with chronic pain. The AIHW’s report, ‘Opioid harm in Australia: and comparisons between Australia and Canada’ paints a bleak picture of the harms to those using opioids like oxycodone, codeine and morphine. Over three million people were prescribed 15.4 opioid scripts in 2016, and with an average of 3 deaths per day.
know all the medicines you take and why you take them,
understand the instructions of how to take a medicine,
check with your health professional before starting a new medicine, and
ask if you have any questions.
NPS MedicineWise has created a range of resources you can download and use to help spread the important messages of Be Medicinewise Week. The Be Medicinewise Week poster and Medicines list are available in English, Arabic, Chinese simplified, Chinese traditional, Croatian, Greek, Italian, Korean, Macedonian, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Knowledgeable, empowered and supported consumers are critical to improving outcomes for people with pain and addressing opioid reliance and misuse, identified as a key goal of the National Pain Strategy. These consumers can seek out appropriate advice and treatment, better understand their pain and take the first step towards adopting self-management strategies that are proven to improve activity, reduce disability and keep pain to a minimum.
There is low awareness of pain and its treatment options in the community. Increasing community understanding of best practice pain treatments will more effectively align health professional and consumer conversations on pain management. Changing common beliefs about pain and its treatment is also critical to achieving better outcomes.
Consumers need greater confidence to seek out best practice pain treatment and be active participants in their remedial journey as well as building resilience in managing chronic pain. Credible, quality sources of information are a good starting point to better pain management.