Examining The World’s Opioid Gap

This Blog Covers:

  • A recent study published by The Lancet examined the impediments of opioid use and the possible solutions for those affected by the world’s opioid gap.

  • The study published a comprehensive overview of several barriers that make it almost impossible for physicians to prescribe, administer, and regulate opioid medication.

  • The spine specialists at American Spine explain findings from this study and analyze some of the “solutions” to this opioid-related issue.

According to the study, which was published in Clinical Pain Advisor, there have been several obstacles for patients needing opioids to mitigate their chronic illness or cancer pain. These barriers were listed as a lack of physician training, limited awareness about diversion and dependence, financial restraints, cultural attitudes, and restrictive regulations, among others. The combination of these impediments makes it difficult for patients to be accurately prescribed their opioid medication, and in a timely fashion.

Dr. Berterame of The Lancet stated, “The most important barriers to be addressed are lack of capacity of health care professionals to prescribe and administer pain medications, onerous regulations and complicated administrative processes, and cultural and social resistance to the use of opioids analgesics.”

This statement carries much weight among health care professionals because it’s often easier said than done. Still, for first world countries like the United States, Canada, Russia, etc., it shouldn’t be difficult to promote patient education when dealing with these potentially hazardous substances. Moreover, it’s important for patients to understand there are alternative options available for their condition, and that they can receive specialty care for moderate to severe pain.

Unfortunately, many primary care physicians are prescribing opioid medications to patients who could benefit from a number of other therapies. The study re-iterated the importance of education and training in these areas for physicians and their patients to not only reduce the likelihood of dependence, but to also ensure a complete, balanced continuum of care.

Dr. Kaye of The Ochsner Journal stated, “Drug formulation strategies for abuse deterrence [are] still evolving, but it appears that this is the direction we are heading in the future. We need standards of education and training. We need regular testing of competencies and required urine testing for those taking these medications. We need to agree on best practice strategies and standards.”

These are all important factors to consider when addressing the opioid gap. For the spine specialists at American Spine, opioid medications are evaluated thoroughly before a patient receives a script.

At American Spine, we are dedicated to treating chronic pain and spine conditions. Offering the latest in minimally invasive spine surgery and other effective treatment options, American Spine is the leading pain physician group of California. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (951)-734-PAIN (7246).

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

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Phone: (951) 734-7246


Phone: (951) 734-7246