C.A.R.E.S. launches tools to prevent misuse and abuse of pain medication

October 19, 2010

The C.A.R.E.S. Alliance, a new patient-safety organization sponsored by Covidien, recently launched a range of online tools designed to help solve the growing problem of misuse and abuse of opioids by identifying the risks associated with these medications.

The Collaborating & Acting Responsibly to Ensure Safety (C.A.R.E.S.) Alliance, a new patient-safety organization sponsored by Covidien, recently launched a range of online tools designed to help solve the growing problem of misuse and abuse of opioids by identifying the risks associated with these medications. The free resources promote safety in prescribing, dispensing, using, storing, and disposing of opioids.

Developed in consultation with leading pain experts, the resources include a variety of “safe-use” programs, tools, and educational materials intended for patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and communities.

The C.A.R.E.S. Alliance tools and materials were developed through a Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA), a scientific methodology used to identify where problems occur in the use of pain medications and the underlying causes of those problems. FMEA research presented at PAINWeek, held September 8 to 11 in Las Vegas, Nev., identified 79 “failure modes” – areas where problems occur – in the use of opioids and 290 potential underlying causes of those failures. On the basis of those causes, 929 potential interventions were identified, leading to the development of 37 initial tools out of the 60 that will eventually be available through the alliance.

The more than 20 tools currently available include clinical materials and risk assessments for physicians, safe-use guides for patients, and general education materials related to safe and responsible prescribing of opioids for all groups. As the organization expands, it will seek input from members and will offer additional tools, programs, and research aimed at improving the science of safety for opioids.

“As healthcare professionals, we need to do a better job of assessing our patients’ pain-medication needs and of communicating the risks of the medications we prescribe,” said Jeffrey Gudin, MD, pain management and addiction expert at the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, N.J., one of the Mt. Sinai University School of Medicine affiliates.

“Chronic pain affects tens of millions of people in America. Prescription pain medications can help chronic pain sufferers maintain their ability to work and function, but these drugs also can be very dangerous if they are not used properly,” said Herbert Neuman, MD, Covidien’s vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer – pharmaceuticals. “We want to make sure patients and physicians not only understand the importance of these medications for providing pain relief, but also comprehend the very real risks these medications carry. Proper steps must be taken to ensure the safety of patients and their families.”

For more information about the C.A.R.E.S. Alliance or to access its resources, visit www.caresalliance.org.