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Phys Sportsmed. 2012 Nov;40(4):12-20. doi: 10.3810/psm.2012.11.1975.

Evolution of opioid risk management and review of the classwide REMS for extended-release/long-acting opioids.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA.


In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA) afforded the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the ability to enforce postmarketing risk management strategies for prescription medicines. Under this policy, certain medications with known or potential risks could be required to have a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), a risk management program designed to ensure that a product's therapeutic benefit outweighs its risks. Prescription opioid analgesics, particularly extended-release (ER)/long-acting (LA) formulations, have undergone scrutiny in recent years due to the serious risks associated with their use, especially when they are prescribed improperly, misused, or abused. In July 2012, the FDA approved a classwide REMS for ER and LA opioids. This ER/LA opioid REMS program is designed to improve prescriber education and patient awareness about safe opioid use to minimize the risks of addiction, unintentional overdose, and death. Because clinicians often encounter patients with moderate-to-severe chronic, noncancer pain who are in need of around-the-clock opioid analgesia, knowledge of the conditions of this classwide REMS may become essential to continue prescribing ER/LA opioids. This article briefly describes the changes in US risk management policies that have shaped today's regulatory environment and provides an overview of the requirements for the classwide ER/LA opioid REMS.

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