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Society welcomes launch of new review on opioid-containing medicines

Published: 14 Feb 2019 in Society news

The British Pharmacological Society welcomes the launch of a new review into opioid-containing medicines. An Expert Working Group of the UK’s Commission on Human Medicines will assess the available evidence on risks and benefits in order to support the safe and appropriate use of these medicines in the treatment of pain. Clinical pharmacology expertise will play a crucial role in the analysis. Clinical pharmacologist Professor Jamie Coleman will chair the Working Group, leading a collaborative effort with experts across a range of scientific disciplines. Professor Coleman says:

In taking forward this important work we will focus on providing clear information to healthcare professionals, patients and carers - no one should be unaware of the potential risks of opioid medicines.

We have set out a clear programme of work to look at regulatory options. We have already planned some initial steps to work with stakeholders to produce consistent and clear label wording that opioid medicines may lead to addiction. We are also going to examine access to opioid medicines.

The Society is committed to supporting education and training in the use of medicines. The Society has jointly led the development of the Prescribing Safety Assessment* (PSA), the first single, national, online assessment of prescribing competency, with the UK Medical Schools Council. The Society is also working worldwide, with the Australia, New Zealand and countries in Europe and the Middle East to support healthcare professionals with the tools, support and process design they need to improve the quality and safety of care in their country. Professor Simon Maxwell, Medical Director of the PSA said:

High quality training to support the appropriate prescribing of opioid-containing medicines will be part of the solution. This is an area of expertise and international focus for the Society and we would welcome the opportunity to support the work of the Expert Review Group wherever possible. This review comes at a critical time, when concerns about the overuse and misuse of opioid-containing medicines are rising. Prescribers must have access to the best available evidence and information.


*The Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) has been developed as a collaboration between the British Pharmacological Society and Medical Schools Council in the UK. The assessment allows all students to demonstrate their competencies in relation to the safe and effective use of medicines. The UK PSA site can be accessed through: prescribingsafetyassessment.ac.uk/; the international PSA can be accessed through: www.bpsassessment.com