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Papers of the Week

2018 Jun-Sep

J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother



Public Policy: An Analgesia for Opioid Diversion.


Wee Jun Yan I, Lim Tian Ying B, Brennan F
J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2018 Jun-Sep; 32(2-3):178-191.
PMID: 30676178.


Although opioids are a commonly prescribed form of analgesics among the armamentarium for their efficacy and safety when used responsibly, societal problems of drug diversion are highly prevalent. This review seeks to examine the importance of opioids and the extent of diversion and its impact, drawbacks, and controversies in law, public policies, and strategies. In particular, the law has skewed its focus toward the regulation of opioid suppliers (as compared to consumers), giving rise to a chilling effect where physicians are hesitant to prescribe opioids to patients with legitimate needs. This has downplayed the importance of medically treating pain, especially in the context of palliative care. This article recommends the intelligent use of public policy to alleviate the opioid diversion problem while acknowledging the importance of appropriate pain management. Concurrently, this article recommends providing continuous education and support for physicians, dispensers, and the like and adoption of soft law approaches by legislators and enforcement bodies to prevent relentless clamping down on opioid abusers. In conclusion, appropriate policies and guidelines are necessary to support the entire health care body in executing a coordinated approach and exercising vigilance to better manage the opioid diversion problem.