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Opioid analgesics

MHRA expert working group launches review of opioid use

An expert working group of the UK’s Commission on Human Medicines, a committee within the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has launched a review looking into the risks and benefits of opioid medicines.

The working group, which includes representatives from the pharmacy profession, met at the MHRA on 12 February 2019 to start the review.

The review will look at data on the use of opioid-containing medicines in the UK, both prescribed and over the counter (OTC), and consider whether efforts to minimise the risks of OTC and prescription opioid use have been effective.

It will also examine the benefits and risks of using opioid-containing medicines, particularly for non-cancer indications.

The working group has committed to making recommendations for regulatory action to support the appropriate use of prescription opioids, which may include making changes to the Summary of Product Characteristics, Patient Information Leaflet, product labelling and packaging.

June Raine, director of MHRA’s vigilance and risk management of medicines division, said the review was a response “to the growing concern internationally and in the UK about overuse and increased prescribing of opioid analgesics”.

Jamie Coleman, chair of the opioid expert working group, said: “In taking forward this important work we will focus on providing clear information to healthcare professionals, patients and carers — no one should be unaware of the potential risks of opioid medicines.”

Public Health England was commissioned by the government to review dependence on prescription drugs, including opioids, in January 2018. Its review is due to be published later in 2019.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206169

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