US drug regulators have called for pharmacists to have access to training on appropriate prescribing of opioid medicines to help tackle addiction.
To help reduce the rate of new addictions, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put in place a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for extended-release/long-acting opioid analgesics on 9 July 2012.
The regulator is now updating the scheme, which aims to ensure that opioid use is restricted to appropriate indication, duration, and dose, to include immediate-release opioid analgesic products.
In a statement, FDA commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb said that for the first time, the FDA will be asking that the training be made available to other non-physicians, including pharmacists and nurses.
The FDA is currently considering whether such training, which is being expanded to include “broader information on pain management and enhanced information about the safe use of opioid analgesics, basic elements of addiction medicine and opioid use disorders,” should be mandatory.
In a response to a report on the evidence of opioid addiction from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Gottlieb said the Administration was reassessing what further steps could be taken to reduce exposure to the drugs.
This includes incorporating a ‘benefit–risk framework’ into decisions on opioid drug approval and removal to include the public health impact of inappropriate use of the drugs.
He also said the FDA was encouraging the development of new treatment options for pain and continuously re-evaluating the safety of approved opioids through post-market data and safety surveillance.