FDA Amends Opioid Education Guidelines

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed changes this week to update its blueprint for opioid prescriber education, in light of the continuing drug abuse epidemic.

The Blueprint for Prescriber Education for Extended-Release and Long-Acting (ER/LA) Opioid Analgesics was introduced in 2012, “to reduce serious adverse outcomes resulting from inappropriate prescribing, misuse, and abuse of ER/LA opioid analgesics while maintaining patient access to pain medications,” according to the FDA.

Beyond educating patients on the risks of opioid use, the newly proposed changes to the blueprint would promote a more holistic discussion on pain management at the point of care.

“[Healthcare providers] should be knowledgeable about the range of available therapies, when they may be helpful, and when they should be used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management,” the revised document states.

This addition addresses what was lacking the in the previous opioid education blueprint, which didn’t mention pain management options like chiropractic care or acupuncture.

In both drafts of the blueprint, drug companies are required by the FDA to offer training to healthcare providers, though providers are not required to complete training before issuing prescriptions for opioids. But, the draft is not yet final.

"We need more research before implementing anything mandatory," says Lisa Robin, chief advocacy officer for the Federation of State Medical Boards.

Until July 10, the FDA will accept public comments, which may be submitted by mail or electronically.

Many have been affected by the opioid crisis — physicians, patients, families and friends alike. The next few months are a chance to share your voice.

Take care.

—Shelby