New resource to assist prescribers respond to pharmaceutical opioids now available

February 2019

NCETA’s latest resource, Responding to Pharmaceutical Opioid-related Problems: A resource for prescribers which was launched on Friday 8 February 2019, at Flinders University’s Victoria Square campus, attracted considerable interest from clinicians and media outlets.

The resource was developed by NCETA in response to increasing levels of harm stemming from the use of pharmaceutical opioids and the challenges experienced by prescribers when responding to the needs of these patients. The resource was written by Roger Nicholas with input from key clinicians and researchers:

  • Dr Penny Briscoe: Director, Pain Management Unit, Royal Adelaide Hospital
  • Dr Nico Clark: Former Clinical Director, Drug and Alcohol Services SA
  • Dr Meredith Craigie: Pain Medicine Specialist, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Dean, Faculty of Pain Management, ANZCA
  • Professor Ann Roche, Director, NCETA
  • Associate Professor Suzanne Nielsen: Deputy Director, Monash Addiction Research Centre
  • Dr Tim Semple: Deputy Head, Pain Management Unit, Royal Adelaide Hospital.

It was produced with support from Indivior Pty Ltd.

This resource addresses several key issues related to pharmaceutical opioids including:

  • The extent and nature of, and problems associated with, pharmaceutical opioid use in Australia
  • Effective management of persistent non-cancer pain
  • Opioid tolerance, dependence and withdrawal
  • Preparing medical practices for patients with prescribed opioid problems
  • Assessing and responding to patients with pharmaceutical opioid-related problems using pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical approaches
  • Assessing and responding to patients with codeine-related problems.

Speakers at the launch included Dr Meredith Craigie, Dean, Faculty of Pain Management, Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), Dr Tim Semple, Deputy Head, Pain Management Unit, Royal Adelaide Hospital and Dr Xiu Lim, Addiction Medicine Specialist, Drug and Alcohol Services SA (DASSA) who provided the context and background for the development of the resource.

NCETA’s Professor Ann Roche informed attendees “Pharmaceutical opioids are very valuable medicines. However, Australia is currently experiencing a range of harms associated with their use. We also need strategies to support codeine-dependent individuals who will no longer be able to obtain these medicines without a prescription. This new publication provides valuable information about how to achieve this”.

The resource was formally launched by Professor Ross McKinnon, College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University who commended NCETA on the resource and its utility for a wide range of clinicians.

The development of the resource was informed by a comprehensive literature review: Pharmaceutical opioids in Australia: A double-edged sword which provides more detailed information about the issues addressed in the resource.

Both the resource and literature review are available for download from NCETA’s website.

If you would like to obtain free hard copies of the resource in both printed form and/or on USB, please email NCETA on: