Has CME Put a Dent in the Opioid Crisis? The Jury's Still Out

MM&M Online (10/03/19) Iskowitz, Marc

The administrators of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies Program Compliance, under which opioid manufacturers must pool monies into a fund for creating independent continuing medical education (CME) courses on safe prescribing, are uncertain that the initiative has had a clear effect on the opioid epidemic. "We can show ... that people are learning and they are changing their behavior in practice, but we can't demonstrate improved outcomes" due to the lack of a measurement protocol, said Norm Kahn, MD, head of the Conjoint Committee on Continuing Education. About 500,000 clinicians have completed CME activities adhering to an earlier FDA plan for accredited medical education providers to use as a CME development platform since 2013. Of the 113,692 FDA-defined prescribers who completed these CME activities, physicians, advanced practice nurses, and physician assistants comprised 93.1% of participants. Most learners participated in online offerings, even though the bulk of CME sessions were offered live. Kahn said self-assessment among learners demonstrates that the program is effective in terms of competence and performance, to the effect that CME is improving learning and changing practice behaviors. He added that 16 states presently require continuing education on pain management and/or opioid education for healthcare providers, and several others mandate some other form of continuing education.

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