New FDA Regulations Push PCPs To Improve Their Chronic Pain Management Skills
PCPs, or primary care physicians have to treat numerous patients suffering from chronic pain. Unfortunately they lack the necessary training in assessing and managing patients with chronic pain, most importantly the management of chronic pain through the use of opioid medication. The United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has made PCP education one of the most important parts of its REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy) program. This is being done in attempt to limit the misuse of opioid medication, a misuse that could cause addiction or even death through an overdose.
A research conducted by Inflexxion, a company involved in the observation and research of behavioral health, studied the important issues that concern PCPs and their ability to prescribe opioid drugs to chronic pain patients. The study investigates what kind of training should be considered useful for PCPs in order to make their prescriptions safer and more effective for patients and the type of education found best for clinical practice.
The study, named Identifying Primary Care Skills and Competencies in Opioid Risk Management was published in the JCEHP (Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions) in the fall of 2011.
Sixteen experts in primary care and pain management from around the country were interviewed by scientists from Inflexxion in order to find out what they believed were the best solutions for the safe treatment of chronic pain patients. Questions about competencies and general medical knowledge were included in the investigation. After all the data was collected it was examined and analyzed using a new method that summarizes and prioritizes qualitative data.
The results of the study showed a clear discrepancy between the answers of the primary care physicians and the pain management experts. PCPs believed that monitoring therapy, understanding possible behavioral side effects and a safe prescription of opioid medication are the most important issues. On the other hand, pain management experts said that PCPs should accumulate more knowledge in formulating treatment plants whilst also having a better general understanding of chronic pain management. However, both parts agreed that understanding and managing the pain in patients suffering from co-morbid problems is the most important aspect.
Doctor Kevin Zacharoff, co-author of the study and VP of Medical Affairs from Inflexxion said that “Primary care physicians treat a high proportion of chronic pain patients but often lack training about how to assess and address issues associated with prescribing opioids when they are an appropriate component of therapy. The result may be that they could avoid treating these patients, which can lead to an under treatment of pain”. He also added that the new FDA concerns will push both trainers and pharmaceutical companies to develop new programs.