New campaign to address opioid dependence

By Staff

The Colorado School of Public Health and Pinnacol Assurance are taking a significant step in addressing the rising rates of death from opioid pain relievers by creating training that focuses on safe prescribing practices and intervention strategies to improve physicians’ understanding of the best practices that help prevent the health risks and issues associated with these drugs.

Rates of U.S. overdose deaths associated with opioid pain relievers (OPD) have exceeded those of heroin and cocaine combined according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Colorado School of Public Health and Pinnacol Assurance have launched a physician training program and public service announcement campaign to improve chronic pain management in Colorado and nationally.

“Pinnacol Assurance is proud to partner with the Colorado School of Public Health to create an opioid abuse education program for all Colorado physicians,” said Pinnacol Assurance CEO Kenneth Ross. “Because Pinnacol touches so many lives in Colorado—nearly 55,000 policyholders and 1 million workers—we have a responsibility to play a leading role in educating doctors about the potential dangers of opioid abuse.”

The school’s Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center (MAP ERC) received an educational grant from Pinnacol Assurance in January 2012 to develop, host, promote and evaluate a new online continuing medical education (CME) training.  The training aims to improve physician understanding and adoption of state and federal guidelines for non-cancer chronic pain management.

The CME training launched this month as the first Colorado-based education program to train physicians on evidence-based strategies that address the current opioid crisis throughout the state and country.  The Pinnacol Assurance grant supported the creation of an expert advisory committee as well as the development of training content and a resource toolkit that are both hosted on the MAP ERC eLearning site. The program also includes creating a Public Service Announcement to spotlight 1) the significance of the opioid crisis that has become a public health emergency, 2) the role physicians play in helping prevent opioid abuse and overdoses and 3) how the Colorado School of Public Health is leading education efforts to train prescribing providers on current guidelines.

“Pinnacol’s mission has always been to protect its policyholders and their employees and this training program is just another way we are honoring that commitment,” said Pinnacol Assurance Medical Director Edward Leary, M.D. “Our goal is to ensure that our injured workers receive the necessary treatment to return them safely to work without the potential harmful side effects of inappropriate opioid prescriptions. The Centers for Disease Control has called the increased use of opioids an epidemic and doctors are looking for a resource to help them address the issue. We are confident the program we are developing with the CSPH will successfully serve that purpose.”

To learn more about the training, visit