Utah Launches State-Wide Clinical Guidelines for Prescription Pain Medications to Combat Prescription Drug-Related Deaths

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Inflexxion's clinician tools are recommended to help health care providers safely prescribe and monitor opioid medication use

Inflexxion, a company that creates scientifically validated tools for critical areas of health care, is pleased to announce that the State of Utah has included Inflexxion's opioid risk management tools in state-wide clinical guidelines for prescribing pain medications. The guidelines were developed by the Utah Department of Health as part of an ongoing campaign to fight the rise of prescription drug overdose deaths in the state. They include both a set of evidence-based recommendations to guide clinicians in the appropriate use of opioid medications, and clinical tools to help doctors carry out the recommendations.

"For the past 17 years, prescription drug-related deaths have increased and now exceed deaths resulting from automobile crashes in our state. In fact, it is now the number one cause of unintentional death," writes David Sundwall, M.D., Executive Director of the Utah Department of Health, in the introduction to the guidelines. "It is our hope that the guidance in this document...will, if followed, significantly reduce deaths from misuse and abuse, but at the same time allow for the control of chronic pain with the proper use of opioid medications."

To develop the guidelines, the Utah Department of Health convened two multidisciplinary panels of experts: one to develop the recommendations, and another to select the accompanying clinician tools. The experts on the tools panel reviewed and graded 47 tools for usefulness and suitability for inclusion in the guidelines, and ultimately selected 21 tools from those with the highest ratings.

"This has been a tremendous amount of work, involving both experts and researchers to help us gather the best relevant knowledge and educational material that is available," says Erin Johnson, M.P.H., who serves as Prescription Pain Medication Program Manager for the Utah Department of Health's Prescription Pain Medication Management & Education Program. "We want to spread the word about the guidelines as widely as we can, so doctors in Utah and across the nation can benefit from them."

Among the tools included in the guidelines is Inflexxion's Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients with Pain Version-Revised (SOAPP-R®).

The SOAPP-R is a brief paper-and-pencil self-report tool that enables clinicians to assess the potential risk of addiction in patients prior to initiating opioid therapy. Its utility was recently highlighted in a set of clinical guidelines for the use of opioids in treating chronic non-cancer pain, which were developed jointly by the American Pain Society and the American Academy of Pain Medicine and published in the February 2009 issue of The Journal of Pain (Volume 10, Number 2). Another version of the SOAPP, the 5-item SOAPP-SF, is recommended by Kaiser Permanente's Pain Management Advisory Group.

In addition to the SOAPP-R, the panel chose to include Inflexxion's Current Opioid Misuse Measure (COMM)®. The COMM is a tool for identifying whether a patient, currently on long-term opioid therapy, may be exhibiting aberrant behaviors associated with misuse or abuse of opioid medications.

These tools are also available directly to clinicians who visit and register at the PainEDU.org website (http://www.PainEDU.org). Published by Inflexxion, the PainEDU site offers extensive educational resources free of charge to clinicians who are interested in learning more about pain management, including online tutorials and scoring guides for the SOAPP-R and COMM tools.

"We're very excited that SOAPP-R and COMM are included in the guidelines. Utah is a leader in this area, only the second state in the nation to develop guidelines for health care professionals to follow when prescribing pain medications for chronic pain," says Kevin Zacharoff, M.D., Director of Medical Affairs at Inflexxion. "At Inflexxion, our mission is to improve public health, and we have developed tools like the SOAPP and the COMM for just this kind of purpose. We're proud to be part of a growing movement to ensure that doctors have the education and tools they need to prescribe opioid medications safely and appropriately - so we can protect patients and save lives."

About Inflexxion
Founded in 1989, Inflexxion leverages technology to improve public health. We create clinically validated tools and programs for critical areas of health care, including prevention and wellness education, addiction and pain treatment, and pharmaceutical risk management. Key offerings include: NAVIPPRO™, PainEDU.org, painACTION.com, SOAPP, and COMM. These innovative solutions help reduce health-related risks, enhance clinical outcomes, and positively impact the quality of care.

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Lara Romanowski
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