NPS Medicinewise Education Program: Opioids, Chronic Pain and the bigger picture
Every day in Australia, 3 people die, and 14 people present to emergency departments because of harm from pharmaceutical opioids.
Opioids can be an effective component of the management of acute and cancer-related pain. However, recent evidence shows that for most patients with chronic non-cancer pain, opioids do not provide clinically important improvement in pain or function compared with placebo. Additionally, they carry significant risk of harm; opioid-related harms persist or increase with time and increasing doses.
Painaustralia proudly partnered with NPS MedicineWise on a new education program, Opioids, chronic painand the bigger picture that aims to equip health professionals and consumers with tools and resources to reduce the harms of opioids while ensuring adequate pain management and quality of life for people with chronic non-cancer pain.
A special thanks to the members of our Consumer Advisory Group (CAG), led by Chair Sister Mary-Lynne Cochrane, who have committed much time and effort in ensuring that the final resources are consumer centred.
Our CAG provided input on a range of practical tools such as conversation starters and a pharmacist counselling checklist, which are available to assist health professionals interacting with people who are taking opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. The CAG also provided input to inform an opioids fact sheet and tapering action plan which have been developed to help consumers make more informed decisions about opioids.
In addition to consumer education materials, NPS MedicineWise educational visitors will undertake one-on-one and small group visits in general practice. The program will include online professional development activities and a MedicineWise News article to help support GPs and pharmacists in delivering better quality care for patients.
Choosing Wisely Australia’s recommendations and principles relevant to opioid use based the development of program messages. The advice from Faculty of Pain Medicine Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (FPM ANZCA) is:
Do not continue opioid prescription for chronic non-cancer pain without ongoing demonstration of functional benefit, periodic attempts at dose reduction and screening for long-term harms.