Opioid pain medications have always had, and will continue to have, an important role in the treatment of both cancer and non-cancer chronic pain, which can be challenging to treat. Napp Pharmaceuticals Limited provides the NHS with a range of opioid medicines and formulations to help provide pain relief and improve the quality of life of those people living with acute and chronic pain.
Pain management is complex and all pain therapies, including opioids, should be used as part of a multidisciplinary approach that is tailored to each individual.
We recognise the risk of dependence, tolerance and addiction with opioid pain medications, as reflected in prescribing information. Opioid pain medications need to be prescribed, monitored and reviewed appropriately to ensure effective and responsible use. We have proactively looked at how we can play a constructive role in supporting efforts to ensure high quality, guideline-based prescribing of these medicines.
Napp supports appropriate updates to packaging and patient information, as stated by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in April 2019. We have provided submissions to both the Public Health England review of prescribed medicines that have the potential to cause dependence or withdrawal symptoms, as well as the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) review of the benefits and risks of opioid medicines and we await the results and recommendations of both reviews.
As part of our research and submission to these reviews, Napp identified some key areas and contributed ideas to support appropriate prescribing of opioid pain medications. Ahead of the review, we wrote in early January 2019 to the MHRA to highlight our support for updated labelling and packaging and we submitted recommendations in March 2019. We hope these insights can help provoke thinking and encourage discussion among healthcare professionals, regulators and industry. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss the below recommendations further:
- Improving intelligence on the use of medicines that have the potential to cause addiction, dependence or withdrawal symptoms
- Developing digital tools to critically appraise prescribing rates
- Improving the information and packaging on opioids, as announced by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in April 2019
- Evaluating the impact of over-the-counter opioid medicines
- Strengthening access to comprehensive pain management and addiction services
- Introducing additional safeguards around the prescribing and dispensing of opioid pain medications
- Increasing the use of high-quality treatment reviews
- Strengthening medical training on managing pain and identifying the risk of addiction
Date of preparation April 2019 UK/PAIN-19001