Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013
How to prevent abuse yet manage pain: AMA president
As prescription drug abuse and overdose has reached crisis levels, the AMA is working to help curb misuse and harm while ensuring patients get the pain care they need, AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, writes in a guest column on physician blog KevinMD.com.
"[O]verdoses and deaths from opioid analgesics have more than quadrupled in the United States since 1999," Dr. Hoven writes. "At the same time, a great deal of human pain and suffering remains inadequately treated."
"As policymakers craft solutions to address prescription drug abuse, diversion, overdose and death, it is critical that we do not unintentionally discourage physicians from appropriately treating pain or reduce access to prescription drugs for patients who are suffering," she writes, citing an Institute of Medicine report, which found that more than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain.
Specific ways in which the AMA has been working to address these dual problems include policy efforts to identify and support workable solutions to curb prescription drug abuse with such organizations as state and specialty medical societies, the National Governors Association and the Federation of State Medical Boards.
The AMA also offers a newly updated continuing medical education program that provides physicians with up-to-date information about effective pain management. This comprehensive educational program is comprised of 12 modules that address numerous clinically important aspects of pain management, from assessment to structuring therapy and managing risks.
Funding for the program update was made possible by support from the Prescribers' Clinical Support System for Opioid Therapies, a group of health care organizations led by the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry that received grant funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Virtual Mentor: Genomics in cancer treatment
Modern genome sequencing technologies have dramatically changed the face of cancer medicine, offering the hope of cancer therapy tailored to individual patients. But genomes contain many variants, some of which are harmless and some of which indicate the possibility of genetic disease.
Whether "incidental findings" should be reported to patients has been fiercely debated among genetic researchers, clinical laboratories, and physicians and others who provide direct patient care. Erin W. Hofstatter, MD, and Allen E. Bale, MD, explore questions of science and ethics in "The promise and pitfalls of genomics-driven cancer medicine," which appears in the August issue of Virtual Mentor.
Other ethical questions raised in this month's issue consider the extreme prices for drugs of marginal benefit, drug shortages that compel physicians to decide who receives preferred treatment and what cancer "survivorship" means.