HCN News & Notes

MMS Launches Website Addressing Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse

WALTHAM — The Mass. Medical Society (MMS) announced the launch of the Smart Scripts MA website (www.massmed.org/smartscriptsma) as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce prescription-drug abuse in the Commonwealth. The website is the cornerstone of the campaign announced last month by the physicians’ group to educate doctors and patients about safe prescribing and the storage and disposal of prescription pain medications.

“There are two groups that perhaps more than any others can help to reduce prescription drug abuse. They are the physicians who write the prescriptions and the patients who take the medicines,” said Dr. Dennis Dimitri, president of the Mass. Medical Society. “This new website reaches out to both groups. By helping physicians ensure that opioids are available only to patients who truly need them, and by educating patients about the proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs, we believe we can make a big impact on the Commonwealth’s opioid crisis.”

The medical society’s campaign consists of three components: guidelines for prescribers, free educational courses for prescribers, and information on storage and disposal of prescription drugs. The new website establishes all three components in one, easily accessible location.

The prescriber-education section includes the MMS’ recently released Opioid Therapy and Physician Communication Guidelines for physicians. The section also contains links to its continuing medical-education courses, offered free to all prescribers until further notice, Dr. Dimitri said, “to remove as many barriers as possible to prescriber education.” Courses include those on managing pain, identifying drug dependence, opioid prescribing, and principles of palliative care. Five courses are currently available, with more to be added later this month.

Recognizing the critical importance of proper storage and disposal of prescription medicines by patients, Smart Scripts MA includes separate sections on medication storage and medication disposal. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 80{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of people who misuse prescription pain medications are using drugs prescribed to someone else, and the MMS believes patient education must be a key component of any effort to reduce prescription abuse.

The website also includes content from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a nonprofit organization founded in 1987 and dedicated to reducing teen substance abuse and helping families impacted by addiction, and a link to the Medicine Abuse Project, a five-year campaign by the Partnership that aims to prevent a half-million teens from abusing medicine by the year 2017.

“Opioid abuse has become a public-health crisis affecting every community,” Dimitri said. “Physicians and patients can make a real difference in reducing the abuse of prescription drugs. We believe our effort can help both groups do just that — make a difference — because people’s lives depend on it.”