TAMPA, May 8, 2008 As controversy swirls about proper clinical use of opioids and other potent pain medications, research reported at the American Pain Society annual meeting shows that, contrary to widespread beliefs, less than 3 percent of patients with no history of drug abuse who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain will show signs of possible drug abuse or dependence.
In his plenary session address, Srinivasa Raja, MD, professor of anesthesiology, Johns Hopkins University Medical School, urged clinicians and policy makers not to allow the small percentage of abused pain prescriptions to prevent legitimate pain patients from getting the care they need.
Physicians today face a dilemma in trying to balance the needs of their patients with demands from society for better control of opioid medications. We also are dealing with unfounded accusations in the media that increased prescribing of opioids for severe chronic pain is responsible in large part for reported upswings in the abuse of pain medications, said Raja.
We do need stronger evidence about which patients will benefit most from these medications to help make better prescribing decisions, he added. But for most chronic pain patients, drugs are not the sole solution. More and more studies are showing that multi-faceted treatment involving physical and cognitive-behavioral therapies and appropriate interventional strategies lead to the most favorable outcomes.
According to Raja, the problem of prescription drug abuse can best be attacked and hopefully solved through collaborations involving care givers, regulatory and law enforcement agencies and the pharmaceutical industry.
First, I believe physicians should be diligent is communicating with their patients about the benefits and risks of opioids and also screen them for drug-seeking behavior and other warning signs of potential abuse, said Raja. Also, we must monitor patients carefully to dete
|Contact: Chuck Weber|
American Pain Society