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Society calls for improved and coordinated approach to opioid prescribing

Published: 10 Feb 2020 in Press releases

The British Pharmacological Society wants to see an improved and coordinated approach to opioid prescribing - similar to antimicrobial stewardship - to protect patients.
We are concerned about the inappropriate long-term use of opioids for chronic pain (where they can be ineffective and harmful) and about the hazards of overdose, dependence and withdrawal.
While opioids have a well-established role in treating acute pain and pain at the end of life, in long-term non-cancer pain, only a small proportion of people obtain good pain relief from them. The difficulty for prescribers is predicting and assessing who will benefit. Therefore, there are concerns that some of the opioids prescribed for long-term pain are being used inappropriately, leading to health harms.
To address the issues, the Society recommends investing in medicines management, education and awareness, and research.
Read our briefing statement, which we shared as part of a Science Media Centre briefing on the issue on 29 January 2020.