Posted: Apr. 2, 2017 12:01 am
NEWTON -- The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, in conjunction with the Center for Prevention and Counseling, will host a "Do No Harm" seminar this week in an effort to educate local medical professionals about the dangers of prescribing opioid pain killers and adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on how to prescribe them.
"We have done over 15 (seminars) since 2013 and it's to really educate prescribers, physicians and dentists about the safe prescribing of opiates," said Angela Conover, the media director for the partnership. "It's about sharing some of the newest information and research about the addictive qualities of these opiates, about talking with patients and making decisions when prescribing dosage to start at a lower dose and prescribe more if necessary."
The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 6, at the Romano Conference and Education Center at Newton Medical Center. While the event is aimed at medical professionals, it is also open to the public, but space is limited and registration is required, said Becky Carlson, executive director of The Center for Prevention and Counseling.
According to the CDC, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999.
From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids, and prescribing continues to fuel this epidemic with at least half of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths involving a prescription opioid, according to the partnership.
In 2014, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving prescription opioids. Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills, according to a press release regarding the event.
According to the partnership, prescribing opiate drugs to a teenager before high school graduation raises the risk of future opioid abuse by 33 percent.
"One of the more important aspects of this event (Thursday) is to bring prescribers together to provide a greater awareness to opiate prescribing practices that have potential harm -- especially when it comes to adolescents," said Annmarie Shafer, coalition coordinator for the Center for Prevention and Counseling. "We know that youth who are prescribed an opiate for pain relief are much more likely to abuse those drugs down the road. There are safer options, and the surgeon general and the CDC want prescribers to understand those options and convey this important information to their patients and/or guardians. This alone would help the current opiate abuse epidemic by preventing new cases of addiction. Coupled with helping prescribers understand how medication-assisted treatments aid people who are already addicted and reducing the supply that is diverted from pill mills and the black market, we can hopefully begin to make a big difference and save lives."
The seminar will focus on being sure physicians are aware of the new guidelines for prescribing opioid pain medication established by the CDC last summer.
The guidelines include trying to avoid opiate prescription for chronic pain, establishing treatment goals with the patients, discussing the risks of opioid pain killers to patients and prescribing immediate release opioids as opposed to long-acting opioid medications, among others.
The seminar will also cover the new regulations in New Jersey that went into effect on March 20 prohibiting a prescriber from issuing an initial prescription for the treatment of acute pain using an opioid drug in a quantity exceeding a five-day supply and requiring the prescription to be for the lowest effective dose of an immediate-release opioid drug.
The event will allow for local physicians to meet with other medical, law enforcement and public health professionals to talk about the opioid epidemic.
"I think all the people in attendance will have an opportunity to really connect with the experts and ask them about the different issues they are facing or questions they may be hearing," Conover said.
For more information and to register, visit drugfreenj.org/newtondonoharm.