REMS Course Focuses on Appropriate Use of ER/LA Opioids

Physicians, as well as all health care professionals who prescribe extended-release/long-acting opioids (ER/LA), can learn about the safe and effective use of ER/LA through a three-hour REMS course that can be scheduled through ASAM.

The general REMS course on ER/LA opioids was developed by CO*RE (Collaborative for REMS Education) and is presented by ASAM and other organizations using the same content. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it has six modules whose content explains details about the appropriate and effective use of extended-release opioids and how to prevent bad outcomes, such as overdoses and overdose deaths.

Edwin A. Salsitz, MD, FASAM, DABAM

Edwin A. Salsitz, MD, FASAM, DABAM

“The ASAM version of the course is different from other REMS courses because it includes a seventh module dealing with addiction issues and chronic opioid use,” said Edwin A. Salsitz, MD, FASAM, DABAM, Chair of the ASAM REMS Program Planning Committee.

REMS, the acronym for Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, is linked to a consortium organized by the FDA. The consortium is funded by manufacturers of ER/LA opioid medications to develop patient and prescriber education materials to reduce risks related to the medications. However, the content of the REMS course is controlled by the FDA.

“Because ASAM is the American Society of Addiction Medicine, we thought it was appropriate for us to have a module that dealt with how often people become addicted, how you can tell if they are addicted, what you should do if they are addicted, and other issues around addiction and problematic behavior. We think the ASAM version providing that extra module really adds something to the overall course,” Dr. Salsitz said. He is an attending physician at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center, Division of Chemical Dependency, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.

The first six modules address subjects such as assessment of patients; which screening tools to use to assess the risk of problematic behavior while people are on chronic opioids; how to taper and withdraw patients from opioids; how to work with caregivers and family members when counseling is needed; and the safe storage of opioids.

“We go over each of these long-acting opioids in some detail, mentioning specific issues, such as metabolic or drug-to-drug interactions and indications,” Dr. Salsitz said. “Anyone who is prescribing opioids would benefit from the course either in terms of getting new education or having a refresher, kind of an Opioid 101.”

Go to the ASAM website for information and a full list of resources, or to attend or schedule a course. ASAM is looking for organizations that would like to host a session of 75 or more prescribers. Attendees earn three hours of continuing education credits.

“We provide faculty members who are certified to present the REMS course,” Dr. Salsitz said. “The course is appropriate for all medical specialties and subspecialties, including primary care physicians, pain physicians, and addiction physicians. We welcome nurses, physician assistants, and counselors. There is no group for which the course would not be appropriate.”