“It doesn’t look like promotion. It looks like education, and it’s required for most physicians.”
Julia Laurie writes for Mother Jones about medication oriented continuing education courses with links to pharmaceutical manufacturers.
“Mary Williams, a 42-year-old receptionist and mother of three, has a complicated medical record: She’s obese and diabetic, has a history of alcoholism, and smokes a pack a day. Substance abuse problems run in the family. She takes short-acting opioids every few hours for her lower back pain and neuropathy, but she’s still uncomfortable, so she goes back to the clinic. Should the doctor keep prescribing opioids?
Thousands of prescribers grapple with a variation of this question each day. Mary Williams is a made-up example in SCOPE of Pain, a continuing medical education class about the risks of prescribing opioids. As the death toll from overdoses soars, a growing number of states require prescribers to take such programs. SCOPE, a free module run by Boston University that can be completed online or in person, is a popular option: About 140,000 providers nationwide have taken it in the past five years.”
Physicians who take SCOPE learn that Williams’ risk of opioid abuse is “moderate.” The course recommends increasing her dose of non-opioid painkillers and switching her to long-acting opioids that she should take every 12 hours. A year and a half later, participants learn, she’s thriving—going to pain support groups and not abusing the pills.