By Ed Coghlan
The president of the American Medical Association has added his voice to the national discussion on the use of opioid medication. The AMA has released findings from a national physician survey that show support for policies and recommendations regarding the opioid epidemic in the United States.
“One of the great hallmarks of our profession is to run toward an emergency, to stand with our patients in the midst of their most pressing needs and to show the nation a clear path forward,” wrote Steven J. Stack, MD, AMA president on the organization’s website.
Commissioned by the AMA and the AMA Task Force to Reduce Prescription Opioid Abuse, the survey included over 2,100 physicians who work at least 20 hours each week, have a license to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances and prescribe opioids at least weekly.
Here’s what the survey found:
- 87% of physicians say prescription drug monitoring programs are valuable in helping doctors understand a patient’s prescription history;
- Prescription drug monitoring programs would be more effective if they included features such as real-time data usage and electronic health record integration;
- Physicians want more opioid-related continuing medical education — 68% have taken safe prescribing CME and 55% have taken opioid alternative pain management CME, however one fourth of physicians reported that the opioid CME they needed was not available;
- More than 80% of physicians agreed that patients who are at risk of an overdose should have access to naloxone by a standing order or agreement with a pharmacist;
- Physicians said that barriers include a lack of insurance coverage, difficulties finding specialists for referral and pressure for high patient satisfaction scores.
“The next step to help increase access to naloxone is for physicians to co-prescribe this life-saving medication to patients at risk for overdose,” Stack said in the press release. “Just as we would co-prescribe an epi-pen to a person at risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction, we should co-prescribe naloxone to a patient at risk for overdose.”
The survey found strong support for increasing access to naloxone. More than 80 percent of physicians said that naloxone should be available to a patient via a standing order or collaborative practice agreement with a pharmacist.
“Our nation’s opioid epidemic won’t end unless we become leaders by supporting the necessary policies and making the necessary practice changes,” Stack said in his viewpoint. “I urge you to join me in taking these steps today. Now is the time to act — this is our moment to turn the tide.”