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With approximately 100 million Americans affected by chronic pain, the appropriate prescribing of opioids is a national concern. The FDA requires that manufacturers of extended release/long-acting (ER/LA) opioid analgesics, as part of a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), create a fund to support comprehensive prescriber education in the safe use of these medications. BUSM was the sole grantee in the first round of funding, receiving an unrestricted award of more than $1.8 million by the manufacturers of ER/LA opioid analgesics, known as the REMS Program Companies (RPC).

Offered in collaboration with the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), BUSM’s Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education (SCOPE) of Pain program is based on the FDA curriculum known as the Blueprint for Prescriber Education for Extended Release and Long- Acting Opioid(ER/LA) Analgesics.

Directed by Daniel Alford, MD, associate professor of medicine at BUSM, the program’s first phase, launched on March 1, 2013, is a three-module online educational activity. It is designed to train providers how to determine appropriateness of opioid prescribing, assess risk of misuse, and monitor patients for risk and benefits of opioid treatment for pain management. The next phases of the SCOPE of Pain Continuing Medical Education program will include conferences in ten states which, in addition to the essential curriculum, will feature state-specific policy and resource panels. These panels will be recorded and archived as part of the online educational activity. There will also be train-the trainer sessions designed to develop a national cohort of SCOPE of Pain trainers, who will deliver a series of workshops at local hospitals and community health centers around the country.

Dr. Norman Kahn, Executive Vice President and CEO of the CMSS notes that “CMSS believes education designed for the prescriber community is paramount to helping clinicians safely prescribe opioids while addressing the critical public health problem faced by opioid misuse.”

Dr. Humayun J. Chaudhry, President and CEO of the FSMB, adds that “The FSMB believes educational initiatives such as this collaboration are crucial in raising awareness with physicians of the risks opioids pose, while providing a framework to ensure physicians who prescribe opioids do so responsibly and safely.”

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