Pain News and Notes: Opioid REMS, Chronic Pain Apps, and Opioid Safety in Hospitals

Pain ManagementOct-Nov 2012
Volume 5
Issue 6

News on opioid REMS, chronic pain apps, opioid safety in hospitals, and other developments in the field of pain management.

News on opioid REMS, chronic pain apps, opioid safety in hospitals, and other developments in the field of pain management.

According to results from a survey of primary care physicians and specialists conducted by dtw Marketing Research Group, Inc., “only 35% of physicians are aware of the FDA’s class-wide safety plan for extended-release and long-acting opioids.” MM&M reports that dtw found that “even after physicians were presented with a summary of the REMS, their awareness only rose an additional 5% to 40% overall.”

WebMD recently launched WebMD Pain Coach™ for the iPhone. The app is designed to be “a mobile companion to coach consumers through daily health and wellness choices so that they can better manage their pain while living a healthy life. It offers patients a personalized experience by delivering daily physician-reviewed tips about managing their specific condition(s) to their mobile device.” According to a news release announcing the launch of the app, the WebMD Pain Coach includes a “Journal” feature that enables users to “see patterns, discover potential triggers, show tangible progress through goal setting, share progress with their physician, and track to gain a measure of control.” It also allows users to access a library of articles, videos, slideshows, and other physician-reviewed content focused on chronic pain.

In August, the Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert urging hospitals to “take specific steps to prevent serious complications or even deaths from opioid use.” The alert recommends that hospitals and other health care organizations “implement effective practices, such as monitoring patients who are receiving opioids on an ongoing basis, use pain management specialists or pharmacists to review pain management plans, and track opioid incidents.” The alert also recommends the use of available technology to improve prescribing safety of opioids “such as creating alerts for dosing limits, using tall man lettering in electronic ordering systems, using a conversion support system to calculate correct dosages and using patient-controlled analgesia.”

In late August, the FDA approved Nucynta for the management of pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) in adults when a continuous, around-the-clock opioid analgesic is needed for an extended period of time, making Nucynta the only opioid approved by the FDA for neuropathic pain associated with DPN. According to a news release announcing the approval, data from two phase III clinical trials showed, “among patients who had at least a one-point reduction in pain intensity during three weeks of treatment with Nucynta ER, those who continued on the same dose of Nucynta ER that was titrated to balance individual tolerability and efficacy (100-250mg twice daily) for an additional 12 weeks experienced significantly better pain control compared to those who switched to placebo.”

According to study results published in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, “women who took ibuprofen or acetaminophen two or more days per week had an increased risk of hearing loss. The more often a woman took either of these medications, the higher her risk for hearing loss. Also, the link between these medicines and hearing loss tended to be greater in women younger than 50 years old, especially for those who took ibuprofen six or more days per week.”

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