People take painkillers to get an instant relief from chronic pain, tension, stress etc. But now the issue is that the correct use of opioids and other potent pain medication should be regulated in a lawful manner. A research conducted by the American Pain Society annual meeting has verified that less than 3 percent of patients who never had a past record of drug abuse were prescribed opioids to relieve them from chronic pain and would later indicate the signs of possible drug abuse or dependence on it.
Srinivasa Raja, MD, professor of anesthesiology, Johns Hopkins University Medical School has suggested to clinicians and policy makers in his sessions that they shouldn’t prescribe even a low percentage of pain killers so as to protect and prevent patients for the unreasonable intake of such abusive painkillers.
Raja said, “Physicians today face a dilemma in trying to balance the needs of their patients with demands from society for better control of opioid medications. We also are dealing with unfounded accusations in the media that increased prescribing of opioids for severe chronic pain is responsible in large part for reported upswings in the abuse of pain medications.”
He added, “We do need stronger evidence about which patients will benefit most from these medications to help make better prescribing decisions. But for most chronic pain patients, drugs are not the sole solution. More and more studies are showing that multi-faceted treatment involving physical and cognitive-behavioral therapies and appropriate interventional strategies lead to the most favorable outcomes.”
The issue of prescription drug abuse can be effectively tackled and resolved through group effort which involves care givers, regulatory law enforcement agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, says Raja.
He notes, “First, I believe physicians should be diligent is communicating with their patients about the benefits and risks of opioids and also screen them for drug-seeking behavior and other warning signs of potential abuse. Also, we must monitor patients carefully to determine when doses can be lowered over time as they improve their pain control and overall functioning.”
The federal and state regulatory agencies should take a firm decision from state-to-state in regulating controlled substances and chink down on unlawful internet pharmacies and prescription thefts and forgeries.
Raja noted, “Progress is being made as there is increased awareness of the source of prescription opioids being diverted into the illicit market. The states and municipalities are stepping up their teen drug awareness education programs.”
The challenge lies for the pharmaceutical manufacturers to counterpart with the clinical needs for a lesser addictive pain medication with drug development priorities. “There are novel analgesic formulations in various stages of development that we hope can be prioritized and expedited for clinical use. We abandoned such faulty beliefs as scientific evidence proved otherwise,” says Raja.
“Now I hope history repeats itself in changing professional and public attitudes as we now know opioids are effective for treating chronic non-cancer pain and that very few legitimate pain patients abuse their medications. Hopefully, the evidence will foster a middle-ground approach that protects the rights of patients and clinicians while upholding society’s right to control medication abuse and diversion,” adds Raja.
Through Raja’s know-how of the last 50 years, the past record shows that there was a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which had recommended that opioids shouldn’t be avoided when treating cancer pain as there are chances of getting addicted. And 20 years ago it was assumed that infants didn’t feel pain and should avoid anesthesia.
Hence doctors who prescribe patients abusive pain killers and people who consume these medications should be cautious enough in future.