Should All Physicians be Required to Receive Opioid Prescribing Training?

fdapanelWith tens of thousands of deaths attributed to prescription painkillers just in the past few years, it is little wonder why policy makers and healthcare professionals are seeking every avenue possible to help save more lives now in the face of this epidemic.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently held a meeting regarding the risk evaluation of extended-release and long-acting opioids. One of the topics of discussion was whether or not all physicians should be required to have specific training on narcotic pain medication to help prevent over-prescribing scenarios. The FDA panel concluded that they should receive such training in order to receive their prescriber number from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Although the American Medical Association (AMA) has developed their own task force regarding preventing opioid abuse, they are generally opposed to the mandatory training, stating that some doctors don’t prescribe painkillers at all and therefore shouldn’t be subjected to it. However, the advisory committee for the FDA saw things differently.

There is an acknowledgment that over-prescribing of painkillers has been one component to the opioid crisis we face, but previous efforts to provide continuing education to physicians fell short of expectations. Therefore, the advisory committee approved the measure unanimously, and also made additional recommendations, such as mandatory education for patients receiving prescription narcotics.

In order to implement the mandates, legislative action will now have to be taken to follow through with the recommendations of the FDA panel. Hopefully the action can be quickly addressed within the House and the Senate. It is possible that the move may take the form of an amendment to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).