One of the biggest hurdles to addressing the opioid crisis in the US is knowing what alternative, non-opioid medications to prescribe for the treatment of chronic pain. Physicians struggle with a complex, patchwork system of state guidelines and regulations that vary with each particular state.
Enter Avella, a Phoenix-based specialty pharmacy that has just launched a new mobile app aimed at care providers who manage patients dealing with either chronic pain or an addiction to pain medication.
The Pain and Addiction Management Mobile App is designed to give providers the support they need in a regulatory environment that has been tightening as the opioid epidemic reaches epidemic-level proportions.
“Avella has historically always been trying to be good stewards of delivering information to our partners,” Eric Sredzinski, Pharm.D, EVP of clinical affairs and Quality Assurance Program director for Avella, told MobiHealthNews. “Some of our strongest partners are providers who send us referrals. We try to enhance that process.”
More than 25 million Americans -- one in 10 people, roughly -- experience chronic pain daily, according to the National Institutes for Health. This need for pain relief is exceedingly difficult to manage given the inherent risks involved in prescribing powerful narcotics. In 2015, opioid drug overdoses led to the death of 33,000 people in this country as reported by the CDC, greater than any year on record. About half of these deaths involved a prescription opioid.
In response to this crisis, many new non-narcotic medications are being introduced to treat chronic pain, along with therapies designed to help patients addicted to prescription opioids. Given all of these options, along with an increasingly regulated prescribing landscape, Avella saw a need to help providers identify the most appropriate, safe, and effective medications for their patients.
“Each state is working somewhat independently when it comes to controlling or to better managing opioid prescribing,” said Sredzinski. “Some states have regulations where they have to go through the drug monitoring program before writing prescriptions. … By us providing a one-stop process for them, they can see if maybe there’s something recent that they haven’t heard of yet.”
The new mobile app provides information about a variety of pain and addiction management medications available from different manufacturers. Prescribers can search for clinical information by medication name or category. Users can also access tools like opioid converters, which can be used to transition patients to a new medication while maintaining safety and efficacy of treatment, along with drug dosage calculators.
Evidence-based prescribing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and other organizations are also easily accessible within the app.
Avella will be trying to put the app into as many physicians’ hands as possible in the coming months. The company has a pain and addiction salesforce, said Sredzinski, and many of them are pharmacists; many are already out in the field spreading the word.
There will also be new features added to the app over time. In the next quarter or two, the app will offer access to pain and addiction formularies, providing insight into which medications are covered and which are not.
The app is available in the Google Play or Apple App stores, and more information is available at https://www.avella.com/pain-mobile-app.
“We’re not here to replace published guidelines,” said Sredzinski, “but we’re here for information right at your fingertips.”