Are REMS Effective for Preventing Overdose Deaths from Extended-Release and Long-Acting Opioids?

Practical Pain Management (01/20) Rhodes, Christine

Data is scarce about the effectiveness of the Risk Evaluation Management Strategies (REMS) education program on mitigating risks associated with extended release/long-acting opioids since its 2012 launch by the Food & Drug Administration. Opioid makers have since 2013 contributed millions to the REMS Program Compliance education fund, intended to create independent continuing medical education (CME) courses on safe prescribing. The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education says 108 CME providers have created more than 943 REMS-compliant activities in the past seven years. However, the educational results are difficult to assess, making it also difficult to determine whether REMS programs have positively impacted patient outcomes. Analyses of opioid overdose incidence rates after the REMS education launch have been inconsistent, and there is no evidence that solely credits the program for observed decreases in prescription opioid deaths.

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