The American Medical Association (AMA) is now offering an updated pain management education program that provides physicians with the latest information on assessing and managing pain.
AMA Immediate Past President Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, noted that maintaining an understanding of appropriate pain management can help physicians ensure that legitimate patients obtain pain relief and prevent prescription drug abuse and diversion. The updated AMA educational program will help them better develop the necessary skills for evaluating and managing patients who have persistent pain.
Some patients with chronic pain benefit from prescription opioids on a long-term basis, but for many others who do not benefit or who experience harm, a multidisciplinary management approach often is needed, the AMA noted.
For many years, the AMA has attempted to combat prescription drug abuse and diversion, including supporting and helping secure passage of the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act in 2005. Since then, the AMA has continued to work on a number of fronts to combat diversion and drug abuse while preserving access to medically necessary treatment for pain.
The AMA supports the following:
• Full funding and staffing for up-to-date, interoperable, at-the-point-of-care prescription drug monitoring programs integrated into a physician’s workflow.
• State-based tools and resources that support identification and assessment of state-based addiction treatment gaps and appropriate targeting of funding and resources to expand access in concert with efforts to decrease the supply of diverted prescription drugs.
• Federal funding for a national framework to support accessible state-level take-back locations to remove unneeded prescription drugs, including controlled substances, from medicine cabinets.
• Positive incentives to promote physician education that provides current best prescribing practices and is tailored to meet a physician’s practice/patient population needs.
• Enforcement actions to halt “pill mill” activities and rogue online pharmacies that are coordinated with public health efforts to expand access to addiction treatment and recovery to ensure that persons suffering from addictions do not resort to the use of illicit drugs, such as heroin.
• A public health approach that places a premium on treatment and includes promoting widespread adoption of drug courts.
The current AMA program received funding from the Prescribers’ Clinical Support System for Opioid Therapies, a group of health care organizations led by the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry that received grant funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Chronic pain affects an estimated 100 million American adults—more than the total affected by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes mellitus combined—according to the Institute of Medicine.