Report from PAINWeek 2017
Fear of regulatory scrutiny is increasing among pain management practitioners who prescribe opioid analgesics, as agencies issue more stringent regulations and appear to “pile on” across overlapping jurisdictions, according to a speaker at the PAINWeek 2017 meeting, September 5-9 in Las Vegas.
“It’s a really crowded field. A lot of different groups and organizations have joined the field of becoming regulatory agencies that have, or want to have a say in what we do when we’re caring for patients with pain,” Kevin Zacharoff, MD, Board-Certified Anesthesiologist and Clinical Instructor at SUNY told attendees.
In his presentation on opening day of the meeting, “The Regulatory Agency Will See You Now,” Zacharoff described the roles, and sometimes conflicting rules of familiar agencies such the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), The Joint Commission, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In addition, he pointed to an increasing involvement into controlled drug prescribing by a range of other policy and monitoring bodies such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
The sometimes conflicting roles and rules of familiar agencies such as CMS, JCAHO, FSMB, DEA as well as deeper involvement of policy bodies such as NCAQ and ONDCP have made opioid prescribing feel even more risky.
To the rhetorical question of “So what?” he offered examples of new measures being announced or enacted in just the three States he is licensed in, Arizona, New York and Pennsylvania.
In Arizona, on June 5, Governor Ducey declared a state of emergency due to the opioid epidemic, and issued an executive order, the “Enhanced Surveillance Advisory.” The order mandates health professionals report suspected opioid overdoses, cases of neonatal abstinence, and the administration of naloxone, in the same manner that is required for suspected child abuse.
In New York, mandatory prescriber education comprising three hours of course work or training on pain management, palliative care, and addiction was to be completed by July 1, 2017, and every three years thereafter.
In Pennsylvania, new requirements for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program went into effect January 2017, necessitating prescribers to query the database prior to prescribing a benzodiazepine or opioid.
Pennsylvania also announced the formation of the Safe and Effective Prescribing Practices Task Force. This body, comprising representatives from various State agencies, medical associations, provider advocates and community members, was charged with developing guidelines for nine medical specialties on the safe and effective use of opioids in the treatment of pain.