Shatterproof strongly believes that in order for doctors to be able to prescribe pain medications, they should be well educated on these powerful, potentially addictive prescriptions.

It’s clear that these medications have an important role in healthcare—but it’s also clear that these medications are often being inappropriately prescribed, and better education for our healthcare providers is an important tool to prevent dangerous painkiller use. This training should be in the fields of prescribing controlled substances, pain management, and identifying possible substance use disorders.

In the 2015 National Drug Strategy, the Obama Administration stressed that “retraining the prescribing workforce is critical” to raising awareness about the dangers of nonmedical opioid use, and it made prescriber education a priority. Additionally, in her 2015 Opioid Initiative, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia M. Burwell, included prescriber education as one of her three priority areas to help tackle the opioid crisis.

Shatterproof believes the most efficient way to achieve this is for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to require education and additional training for medical practitioners who prescribe opioid painkillers. This education and training should be a part of initial and subsequent registration under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.  This is consistent with the recommendation of an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), stating that physicians who prescribe opioid painkillers should receive training on the risks of overusing immediate release, extended-release, and long-acting formulations of pain medications. The committee made this endorsement following a hearing held in May, 2016.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Work

For more information on Shatterproof’s PDMP recommendations, and to read state-based success stories, read our full report here.

Download the Report

Current status of these laws in the United States

23 states and the District of Columbia1 have requirements, either in statute, regulation, or board guidelines, for practitioners to obtain a certain number of continuing education hours in one or more of the following: prescribing controlled substances, pain management, identifying substance use disorders, and others. Some states leave discretion to the state board whether to make such continuing education mandatory, while other states mandate the training by statute.

Shatterproof advocates for states to regulate this on their own. However, Shatterproof believes that more lives can be saved faster if prescriber education is regulated federally.  Learn more about our federal-level prescribing practices advocacy.

1. National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. “Overview of State Pain Management and Prescribing Policies.” January 2016.