Two powerful tools to help us all combat the growing Opioid Crisis: the FDA’s new Opioid Analgesic Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) and Congress’s SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.
In September, the FDA approved a new Opioid Analgesic Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) that expands upon the previous (2012) Opioid Analgesics REMS. The new REMS requires training also be made available on immediate-release opioid analgesics and offered to prescribers and nonprescribers alike who are involved in the management of patients with pain. In tandem, the FDA also approved the new Education Blueprint for Health Care Providers Involved in the Treatment and Monitoring of Patients with Pain (Blueprint). The updated Blueprint calls for CE/CME to incorporate the new REMS content, as well as a new, short primer on addiction medicine.
The new REMS and Blueprint reflect the FDA’s belief that more health care providers should be educated about the safe use of opioids. In addition to prescribers (which could include physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and dentists), non-prescribing nurses and pharmacists are now also targeted for education. The Blueprint specifically mentions “all healthcare providers who participate in the treatment and monitoring of patients who receive opioid analgesics”. Whether or not they write or dispense a prescription, these providers can help ensure proper use and appropriate clinical oversight.
On October 24, 2018, President Donald Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation to combat the opioid crisis. The legislation is called The Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act.