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Papers of the Week

Papers: 8 Jun 2024 - 14 Jun 2024


J Pharm Policy Pract




Advancing opioid stewardship in low-middle-income countries: challenges and opportunities.


Jadhari R, Pathak N, Shrestha R, Shrestha S, Kc B, Gan SH, Paudyal V


The increased utilization of opioids in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) presents a growing threat of opioid-related abuse, misuse and diversion. Pharmacists, as integral members of healthcare teams, are responsible for dispensing and monitoring opioid use and hold a pivotal role in opioid stewardship within LMICs. This commentary describes the potential and multifaceted roles of pharmacists in opioid stewardship in resource-constrained settings and highlights appropriate strategies for promoting responsible opioid utilization. Opioid stewardship involves prioritising evidence-based prescribing, management and practices for pain management. It includes measures such as incorporating prescription drug monitoring programmes for appropriate opioid prescription, implementing safe disposal through drug take-back programmes, promoting non-opioid pain management, addressing the opioid addiction stigma, tapering opioid dose, educating patients and caregivers, establishing drug information centers, providing rehabilitative services and integrating collaboration with communities and experts. The combined difficulties of restricted access to healthcare resources and services coupled with low levels of literacy worsen the susceptibility to opioid abuse, misuse, and diversion in LMICs. Early detection, assessment and implementation of interventions to optimise opioid use are imperative for ensuring safe and effective opioid utilization, thereby mitigating the risks of overdose and addiction. The involvement of pharmacists in promoting safe and effective opioid utilization through education, monitoring, collaboration, and policy advocacy serves as a critical component in bridging existing gaps in opioid stewardship within LMICs.