Opioid prescribing education program offered for physicians, providers

June 14 summit will feature DPH, legislative and faculty experts

By Mark L. Shelton

UMass Medical School Communications

June 05, 2014
Jeff Baxter, MD
Jeff Baxter, MD

A half-day educational program addressing the needs of prescribing clinicians who treat patients with chronic pain will feature practical information on assessing misuse risk associated with extended release and long-acting opioid (ER/LA) analgesics. The program, “Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education,” or “SCOPE,” brings together opioid prescribing experts from UMass Medical School, Boston University, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Brandeis University’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Center of Excellence.

SCOPE is presented as part of the FDA-mandated comprehensive Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), which requires comprehensive prescriber education in the safe use of extended release and long-acting opioid analgesics.

The program will be held at UMass Medical School’s Albert Sherman Center on Saturday, June 14, beginning at 8 a.m. and ending with a panel discussion at 1:30 p.m. featuring Peter Kreiner of Brandeis University; Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program’s Deborah Allwes; Nancy Coffey of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; and Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett.

State Rep. James O’Day will give the keynote address.

Related story: Key role for pharmacists in stemming opiate abuse crisis

The program will feature a discussion of ER/LA analgesics using the FDA curriculum known as the Blueprint for Prescriber Education for Extended Release and Long-Acting Opioid Analgesics, including misuse risk; importance of documentation; managing patient expectations; and monitoring for and addressing misuse.

The program satisfies the Massachusetts opioid education requirements, and provides risk management credits. Jeff Baxter, MD, assistant professor of family medicine & community health at UMMS, and Michael Hirsh, MD, professor of surgery and pediatrics and Worcester Commissioner of Public Health, are also on the agenda.

“We are in the midst of a national epidemic of opioid overdose deaths, fueled primarily by the abuse of prescription opioids,” said Dr. Baxter, who will present “Assessing and managing aberrant medication taking behavior,” at the program.

“Not only are these medications being diverted and abused at alarming rates, but prescription opioids increasingly have become a gateway into the abuse of heroin. Like many physicians across the state, I see firsthand the results of this epidemic, yet even as we continue to expand to serve the needs of patients with addiction in the commonwealth, the demand for treatment has continued to grow faster than services can be made available.”

In the April 23, 2014, New England Journal of Medicine, the directors of the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; the Center for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program Services; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, highlighted the opioid overdose epidemic. They identified "providing prescribers with the knowledge to improve their prescribing decisions and the ability to identify patients’ problems related to opioid abuse" as one of the four primary strategies for addressing this ongoing epidemic.

“One of the premier curricula for supporting providers to improve safety with opioid prescribing originated here in Massachusetts,” Baxter said.” I have been fortunate to work with Boston University’s Daniel Alford, MD, over the last few years to help develop the Scope of Pain curriculum. Dr. Alford has created some of the best teaching resources on this topic in the nation and has worked tirelessly to bring this information to providers around the country. I invite all providers to join us for this event and help all of us in Central Massachusetts improve safety for our patients and our communities.”

Baxter is the chief medical officer for Spectrum Health Systems, which is based in Worcester and provides addiction treatment throughout the region; in the last five years, Spectrum’s outpatient methadone treatment programs have grown from four sites serving approximately 1,500 patients to nine sites serving more than 2,500 clients daily.

SCOPE has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of Boston University School of Medicine and in collaboration with the City of Worcester Division of Public Health. Boston University School of Medicine is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

For more information, visit https://www.scopeofpain.com/.