Opioids can be an effective component of the management of acute and cancer-related pain. However, there is little empirical evidence supporting the use of opioids in chronic non-cancer pain. Not only do opioids pose significant risk of harms, most studies of patients with chronic non-cancer pain have failed to demonstrate improvement in pain or functioning with long-term opioid use.
A new national education program from NPS MedicineWise, Opioids, chronic pain and the bigger picture, aims to equip health professionals with tools and resources to reduce the harms of opioids while ensuring adequate pain management and quality of life for patients with chronic non-cancer pain. NPS MedicineWise educational visitors will undertake one-on-one and small group visits in general practice around Australia, and the program will also provide resources to empower consumers make more informed decisions about opioids.
NPS MedicineWise CEO and pharmacist Adj A/Prof Steve Morris says pharmacists can be among the first to get involved in the new program by participating in a Pharmacy Practice Review, Opioids: reducing harms from long term use, available from this week.
“This Pharmacy Practice Review focuses on the important role pharmacists play to ensure the safe use of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain and to identify patients who may be at risk of harm from long-term use,” said Mr Morris.
“I strongly encourage pharmacists to upskill in this important area to help support quality use of opioids for their patients.”
This Pharmacy Practice Review provides pharmacists with an opportunity to reflect on their counselling of patients using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain, recognise the limited evidence of benefits of opioids, refresh knowledge on the serious harms of long-term use, identify factors that place patients at increased risk of harms and reflect on strategies that have been implemented to promote safe use of opioids.
Pharmacists will have the option to complete the review for 5 episodes of care as an express version, or continue to the standard 10 episodes of care.
Participants receive a counselling checklist and practice tips for starting conversations with patients about opioid tapering. An expert