Pharmacists to add warning labels to opioids

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Description

The labels will advise patients of the risk of overdose and dependence associated with the potentially dangerous medications.

Associate Professor Mark Morgan, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care (REC–QC), told newsGP that opioids are being overused for chronic non-cancer pain in Australia, and said prescribing should be ‘wrapped up’ with a plan for de-prescribing.
 
‘There needs to be a cultural shift away from the use of opioids for most chronic non-cancer pain because there are enormous personal risks, identifiable harms and societal costs from having such high levels of use,’ he said.
 
‘Before starting, and at each review of opioid prescriptions, there should be a careful weighing up of pros and cons. This should include a discussion with the patient about the potential harms and risks, and realistic expectations from using the medication.
 
‘Prescribing for acute nociceptive pain – for example, after an injury or surgery – should be for just a few days with close review. Smaller pack sizes will help this shift.’

Subject

Opioid prescribing

Period29 Jul 2020

Media contributions

1

Media contributions

  • TitlePharmacists to add warning labels to opioids
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletNews GP
    Media typeWeb
    CountryAustralia
    Date29/07/20
    DescriptionAssociate Professor Mark Morgan, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care (REC–QC), told newsGP that opioids are being overused for chronic non-cancer pain in Australia, and said prescribing should be ‘wrapped up’ with a plan for de-prescribing.

    ‘There needs to be a cultural shift away from the use of opioids for most chronic non-cancer pain because there are enormous personal risks, identifiable harms and societal costs from having such high levels of use,’ he said.

    ‘Before starting, and at each review of opioid prescriptions, there should be a careful weighing up of pros and cons. This should include a discussion with the patient about the potential harms and risks, and realistic expectations from using the medication.

    ‘Prescribing for acute nociceptive pain – for example, after an injury or surgery – should be for just a few days with close review. Smaller pack sizes will help this shift.’...
    While noting there is the potential for conflicting advice between the prescribing doctor and the warnings passed on by pharmacists in the form of the leaflet, Associate Professor Morgan said this mismatch should be avoided by a careful and comprehensive approach to prescribing opioids.

    He added that it ‘makes sense’ to explore non-opioid options for pain relief in all patients, with an emphasis on non-drug treatments, and the RACGP’s Handbook of Non-Drug Interventions (HANDI) is a valuable resource to assist with this approach.

    ‘If opioids are used then it is vital the patient and any carers understand how to recognise early signs of overdose,’ he said.

    ‘It is also very important for patients to understand the cumulative effect of different sedating medications and alcohol.

    ‘Naloxone availability and instruction is still missing as a component of safer opioid prescribing.’
    Producer/AuthorMatt Woodley
    PersonsMark Morgan