Education is one of the three factors essential for a public health approach to improving access to opioids. “Without education, it doesn’t matter how much morphine you have in the country, it won’t get to the patients.” Joan Marston
Serendipity came to play this morning with my WHO colleague, William Scholten, sharing this news from today’s Lancet, an interview with the Dr Volkow, the Director of the USA’s National Institute for Drug Abuse. The story really does address the different sides of the “triangle.”
“The World Health Organization oversees the production of psychotherapeutics for a given nation so you have to justify how much drugs you need in a country and the United States has by far enormously higher quotas than other countries. Is it because we treat pain better? I don’t know that that’s the answer”, said Volkow.
“I think it poses the question, why do we have much greater need of opioid analgesics than other countries, and it’s tricky because you don’t want patients not to be able to get access to their medications because there’s not sufficient quantities but at the same time, the greater the amount of drugs out there available, the greater the likelihood that they are being diverted, the greater the likelihood that people become addicted or overdosed.”
And the story continues regarding more on education
Volkow is a leading proponent of the training of physicians on responsible prescription practices for the more than 1 million doctors authorised to prescribe certain controlled substances. Such training was proposed by Gil Kerlikowske, President Barack Obama’s national drugs policy director, and it would need congressional approval but it has been opposed by some state medical boards, which say mandatory classes would take time away from continuing medical education in the physician’s chosen specialty.
As Kathy Foley quoted from the IOM in the film, physicians are very much the biggest barrier. We need to get ourselves educated on the responsible prescribing of opioids for pain control!